Off the back of a disappointing and frustrating pre-season testing run, Dani Pedrosa has acknowledged that Repsol Honda needs to do the same as it did two years ago and 'make an incredible step forward' at this weekend's curtain-raising MotoGP outing in Qatar – and he reveals that calmness and focus will be the key to achieving that.
It has been a tough few months for Pedrosa – one of the premier class' four established 'Aliens', and as such an anticipated title contender – as the Spaniard concluded testing a lowly 13th of the 17 riders in attendance at Losail three weeks' ago more than one-and-a-half seconds shy of the leading pace.
Hard work and repeated efforts have yet to yield the required results in term of on-track performance from the RC212V – offering the 2007 championship runner-up, on paper at least, little outward hope of carrying on his winning form from the 2009 finale in Valencia five months ago, or even of replicating his podium finish from MotoGP's first floodlit race to be held in the Arab emirate in 2008. Pedrosa, however, remains confident of turning the situation around.
“We go back to Qatar this weekend ready to put in maximum effort to do as well as possible at the opening round,” revealed the 25-year-old Catalan, happily uninjured in the build-up to the campaign for the first time in three years. “There's no need to get carried away with nerves or expectations, because this would be only detrimental for us. We will stay calm, be very focussed and simply concentrate as hard as possible in the practice sessions in order to find a good setting for the race. Technically, this circuit requires very precise bike set-up, with good agility and good straight-line speed – these two factors are very important at Losail.
“Two years ago we made an incredible step forward between the test and the race weekend, and we have to do it once again – we know it can happen. I'm starting the season without physical problems, which means that the situation is much better than in the past, so we will work hard and do the maximum to get the best result possible in Qatar. I fully trust the team around me and I also believe in myself, so I'm feeling positive going into this weekend.”
Similarly optimistic of achieving a good result in what is invariably one of MotoGP's most spectacular races is highly-regarded team-mate and former 125cc World Champion Andrea Dovizioso, who has conversely shown well in testing thanks to encouraging progress with his bike – and who arrives in Qatar motivated to prove himself as one of the very leading contenders in 2010 around a circuit where he has never finished lower than fifth in the premier class.
“I'm really looking forward to the first race,” enthused the Italian. “After the long winter break and testing sessions, it's a very good feeling to heading into a race weekend again. Me are the team are very motivated and happy with the work done in the pre-season. We have moved in the right direction and have seen a big improvement through testing, and this gives us a lot of confidence for the start of the season. On Friday we will start with the base setting from the last test session we had here in Qatar a few weeks ago, and work on it further through the course of the race weekend.
“The gap from us to the fastest riders has come down, but we still need to work really hard because we're not close enough yet. The Qatar race is special and unique, of course, because it is at night; having said that, once you get used to the floodlit circuit, it soon becomes 'normal' to race in these conditions. The thing to consider carefully and to be careful about is the humidity, which is very high here at the time of the race. We're ready for round one and I'm really excited to go racing again!”