Dani Pedrosa capped a difficult season with a strong ride to third place in the final MotoGP race of the year at Valencia in Spain, where it looked as though the Repsol Honda rider would make a surprise challenge for victory.
Pedrosa had been languishing more than two seconds behind eventual winner Jorge Lorenzo and his Honda team-mate Marc Marquez, but found a burst of pace in the final laps to throw down the gauntlet in his pursuit of a third premier class win this season.
The 30-year-old bridged the gap to the front pair and managed to pass Marquez on the penultimate lap before running wide, effectively ending any prospects the Honda riders had of denying Lorenzo victory as the Yamaha protagonist gained a few crucial tenths at the front.
Pedrosa, though, was more than happy with third place as the Spaniard ended the year on a high after bouncing back from arm pump surgery to win twice in October at Motegi and Sepang, showing that he is back to his best on the RCV.
“For a lot of time in the race I wasn't comfortable because I struggled a lot this weekend with bike setting but I was not also comfortable in the race with the setting of the bike,” said Pedrosa, who finished fourth in the championship standings after missing three races.
“I started from the beginning struggling on the front because the front was soft with full petrol and I tried every time to follow, but I was losing every lap. I tried to calm down and I know we had to manage the tyre.
“In the middle of the race I tried again but I couldn't control my front and I was trying to do a good lap time, but I was losing touch,” he added.
“At some time I decided again to try and focus on myself and do things a little bit better and probably without attacking so much, I can start to be faster, especially in the last seven laps.”
Recounting his strategy in a tense final few laps at the Ricardo Tormo circuit when Pedrosa closed in on Lorenzo and Marquez, he revealed that he may have overcooked his tyres in the process.
“I started to recover and at the same time they were a little bit dropping the pace and I catch and I checked my board and there was two laps to go only. I attacked, but maybe because of the recovery I was still too hot [tyres] and I didn't settle my mind so well,” he said.
“I entered the turn and ran wide and Marc could pass me again but I am very happy because although it is third place, I take home this attitude because of the way of finishing this season – the progression of it and overcoming this hard situation in this year, which was really tough.
“I have next to me my team, they support me fully and my sponsors also – people that help me a lot and it is super hard to stay together in these hard moments when it is hard to believe,” Pedrosa added.
“But now we are getting back all this and I am super happy because we finish this way and keep this progression for looking to the future.”