Dani Pedrosa feels setting changes with his Repsol Honda provided key performance gains on his way to fifth place at the Malaysian MotoGP as attention turns to his final race at the Valencia finale.

The Repsol Honda rider secured his best result since Aragon following Valentino Rossi’s late crash from the lead but conceded issues with traction and turning denied him the chance to secure a first rostrum of the year losing out to Suzuki’s Alex Rins and the Yamaha duo of Johann Zarco and Maverick Vinales late on.

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Despite missing the rostrum Pedrosa left Sepang feeling content given his tough races at the previous flyaway races, with his final MotoGP season ending on a low ahead of his 2019 switch to become a test rider for KTM.

“I had a good feeling at the beginning, but then more towards the end, I struggled more with the bike,” Pedrosa said. “So I couldn't perform like I wanted, and I got passed by Rins and Viñales at the end. So unfortunately, missed out on a good finish. But a little better than normal.

“At the beginning I had a good pace, and then unfortunately Dovizioso was there, and he was struggling a little bit. So I couldn't pass him because he had such a good braking, but especially such a good speed in the exit of the corner.

“But after, when I was in fourth, I tried to recover on Zarco and the gap was not increasing, not decreasing, a little bit the same pace.

“Towards the end, the Suzuki was very good, looking at it in the corner and especially edge grip, and traction, and turning, a lot more. Yamaha was struggling more from my point of view, but also fast. But the Suzuki, I could see it was really on rails today.”

Pedrosa says the key setting switches paid off at the start of the race to climb into the top five but losing tyre life battling Andrea Dovizioso over the final third of the race cost him a shot at the podium.

“Setting was different and helped at the beginning to stay strong and make passes, and take a good pace,” he said. “Unfortunately then at the end, I struggled a bit more with the tires, and was not able to keep the same pace.

“Normally it was always the opposite, so I cannot pass and I cannot go fast at the beginning, but then I recover, but it's too late. So we changed a little bit the strategy here. I think it could work out a little better if I didn't lose time with Andrea.

“Maybe I could be a little closer to Zarco in the middle stage, and then maybe defend better at the end with Rins and Viñales. But anyway, always a little bit difficult to find the traction and find the turning, and that's our main issue.”

Looking towards his final race in MotoGP and for Honda, bringing the curtain down on a 13-year partnership in the premier class, Pedrosa accepts he focus will turn back to him in Valencia but isn’t preparing for a big send-off.

“I think it's going to be a bit more busy, because a lot of people know it's my last race, and they want to have a little time with me, but I try to always get focused on the race,” he said. “Nothing special. Just try to do the best race possible, and that's it.”

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