At the first official MotoGP test session of the 2011 season, Dani Pedrosa showed much promise. The Repsol Honda rider continues to recover from a broken collarbone, but this didn’t affect his performance during the three-day test at Sepang this week.
Pedrosa set the fastest time during second day of testing, and overall he was second quickest behind San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Marco Simoncelli.
Even nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi said Pedrosa will be a huge contendor this season, which says much about the Spaniard’s progress on the RC212V since crashing at Motegi last season.
In the following interview, Pedrosa discusses the Sepang test, Rossi, the RC212V and his physical condition, among other things.
Q. What is your global assessment about this three testing days in Malaysia?
Dani Pedrosa: "Overall, I am happy with how the test went, because we had three good training days. I think that the best news are that my arm has been improving this winter. After the last races I had many doubts, so now I am happy.
"It is clear that I still lack strength, but I can work on it and I hope to be able to improve it in the time I have left before the season begins. The important thing is that I have no longer problems feeling my hand and it doesn’t go numb. The last day I did a longer run to see how it would respond and it wasn’t bad."
Q. And about the bike, what did you find out?
Dani Pedrosa: "We have been testing the chassis and the engine, which we will continue analyzing in the next test. We also tried some suspensions, both front and back, and we have come up with some clear ideas. We only need to do small changes and fine-tune some details."
Q. Have you already decided if the best way would be to use the 2010 or the 2011 version of the chassis and engine?
Dani Pedrosa: "No, because I run most of the time with last year bike and very little with the new one. The 2011 version has some good things, but I will need to tune the settings a little bit more to make the things I didn’t like work well."
Q. When you talk about the "new bike", do you refer to the whole 2011 version or the one with the 2010 engine?
Dani Pedrosa: "I have not tested this year’s bike complete."
Q. After this days of testing, Valentino Rossi dispelled the doubts he had and included you among his favorites to fight for the championship. What do you think?
Dani Pedrosa: "I think it is usual. If a rider is fast, it is natural to say that he is one of the candidates. Some days ago they asked me the same thing when he didn’t put me as one of his favorites. I think we have to wait until the races begin and then see who are the contenders".
Q. After seeing the results you get in this tests, do you feel more confident?
Dani Pedrosa: "I’ve always trusted myself, my confidence has never diminished."
Q. What do you think about Simoncelli’s results?
Dani Pedrosa: "I think he has done a good test. He has set very consistent times in all sessions and has done a very good job in general. We will have to confirm it in the races."
Q. Do you expect new parts for the next tests?
Dani Pedrosa: "For the next tests we will not use any new material, we will keep checking what we had here, because we want to be certain about what really works and what doesn’t. During this three days I run mostly with the 2010 bike and I only tried the 2011 chassis and engine for a few laps. I am still not sure of which parts I like and which ones I don’t. The biggest change with this chassis was on the brakes, where we have gained a lot of stability."
Q. Do you think it is possible to mix the 2010 and the 2011 bikes?
Dani Pedrosa: "I did not ask that, and it will be a good question for the Honda engineers. I hope we will be able to obtain a good package, it doesn’t matter from which year is each part. The important thing is to get a good bike."
Q. How would you assess your physical form right now?
Dani Pedrosa: "I still lack a bit of form, but I am very satisfied of how I have recovered the feelings on the arm. I have no cramps, no problems with blood circulation and, although I clearly lack strength, I am happy with the results."
Q. About the bike you used in Valencia 2010…which was the working path you followed?
Dani Pedrosa: "The aim we had for the bike this winter was to keep the good things and improve what didn’t work so well last year, but of course without losing the positive points, but that is not always so easy."