2012 - Pivotal Year: Dani Pedrosa

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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Courtesy of SPEED.com

2012 will be a pivotal year in the career of Dani Pedrosa.

The Spaniard has won at least two races in every year he’s been in MotoGP. He’s universally considered one of the sport's "aliens” -- a phrase originally coined by Randy De Puniet to describe the few men capable of winning MotoGP races on a regular basis. Pedrosa’s services are in demand and will continue to be so.

But Casey Stoner, the 2011 World Champion, joined his team last year and did what Pedrosa never could, which was win an 800cc era championship for Honda.

Pedrosa was seriously outshined by his new teammate even before the unfortunate French GP crash that broke Dani’s collarbone. Add that to Pedrosa’s lingering shoulder injury that hampered the start of the season and perhaps the Spaniard’s best chance to win a MotoGP crown yet did not amount to much.

Pedrosa faces a crisis of perception -- that he’s fast and can win races, but can’t bring home the number one plate in the big class. After Pedrosa won three World Championships in 125 and 250 Grand Prix, no one expected this.

Injuries have been the primary bug-a-boo for Pedrosa and he’s compiled an Evel Kneivel-type list of broken bones along the way.

Stoner and Valentino Rossi have each won championships (plural), and Jorge Lorenzo won spectacularly for Yamaha in 2011. Have they separated themselves from Pedrosa? In that respect, sure.

MotoGP is like a lot of things. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re going backward. There are young riders like Marc Marquez that are coming on strong who will get a good MotoGP seat soon. There are men like Ben Spies already in the class that continue to get better and threaten to steal Pedrosa's spot in the pecking order. With just three manufacturers left in MotoGP, there’s not going to be room for all the “number one” riders -- the type of guys who get bikes built around them and race as the focus of the team.

Pedrosa has the talent and skill to win a title or at least to put up a close fight. 2012 needs to be the year.