MotoGP riders have provided their best memories of Dani Pedrosa following his induction into the Hall of Fame ahead of his final race in the premier class.

All six riders in the pre-event MotoGP press conference in Valencia were asked to share their fondest moments of Pedrosa as he prepares to finish racing after an illustrious career spanning 18 years including three world titles (125cc in 2003 and 250cc in 2004 and 2005) plus three runner-up campaigns in MotoGP (2007, 2010 and 2012).

Pedrosa was made a MotoGP legend in a special presentation at Valencia ahead of his final race as he says goodbye to Repsol Honda before becoming test rider at KTM next year.

Valentino Rossi, who has competed against Pedrosa throughout his entire premier class career, feels the Spaniard deserves a world title in the top category given his consistent success – winning at least one race per season until this year – which has made him the most successful rider never to win a premier-class world crown with 31 race wins.

“When Dani arrived in 2006 everybody was very scared because he won two championships in 250cc and I think in his debut race in MotoGP he finished second but he didn’t fight with Capirossi on the last lap but we knew he could win. We were very worried about him,” Rossi said.

“Pedrosa is a great rival for me and I remember a very hard battle, the stronger one, in Brno in 2006 when he fought for second position in the last three or four laps which was very hard.

“Dani deserves a championship, because he won a lot of races – more than 50 races [54 in total at world level] – and he was super competitive in MotoGP. We will miss him.”

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Jorge Lorenzo, who replaces Pedrosa at the factory Honda squad, concedes the pair were largely bitter rivals during the early years of their career battling each other for world titles. The rivalry came to a head during an infamous 2008 Spanish Grand Prix when the King of Spain got the pair to shake hands on the podium after a standoff post-qualifying.

“At the beginning he was like a reference for me but we went through some difficult moments as the first part of our relationship from 2002-2010 which was a tough time between us,” Lorenzo said.

“One of these was in Jerez in 2008 on Saturday after qualifying we were in the press conference together with Colin Edwards and I wanted to shake hands with him to congratulate him and he didn’t. I looked at Colin and it was a very uncomfortable situation.

“The day after in the race he won and I finished third and it was a big moment in Spain as the King tried to get us to shake hands, we shook hands but didn’t look at each other in the eyes. So it was very comfortable.

“But I’ve also had good moments with him, one I remember at Sete [Gibernau]’s house three years ago. We were having a party and competition with small bikes and he was absolutely the fastest one.

“One or two seconds faster than the second one. I wanted to catch him and I was risking him and I had a big crash. It was a big highside but before it we had a very long chat, like we never had before, which was nice. And when I crashed he was worried about my physical condition because I was fighting for the world title that year. It was a nice moment.”

Pedrosa’s current team-mate Marc Marquez also revealed Pedrosa has a hidden fun side which is often mistaken as shyness when in front of the media as he shared a story from a post-Japanese Grand Prix party.

“Dani is not always as people think,” Marquez said. “My best memory was in Japan and in the karaoke where we usually celebrate some victories or championships and Dani was singing without his t-shirt and he was crazy!

“When he is in front of a camera he looks really shy but he is really funny. I’ve shared many great moments with him and he’s a great team-mate.”

Childhood friend and on-track rival Alvaro Bautista, who also bids goodbye to MotoGP this year ahead of his move to World Superbikes, shared a story from when they raced minibikes in Spain aged nine.

“I remember when we practiced afterwards we played football on track in the afternoon and in the evening and he was a bit towards the side and we always tried to force him to play and it was funny,” Bautista said. “We fought on the track to go fast and then in football in the afternoon, ate some food, they were good moments.

Alex Rins added: “At Gibernau’s house it was an incredible day on his track as he was so fast, I don’t think Sete can beat him, we spoke and had a small party with other riders but I remember that moment being special.”

Johann Zarco, who has only competed directly against Pedrosa for the past two years, revealed the Spaniard was always a rider he aspired to be during his junior days.

“I’ve probably known him the least but my memory is when I played on the PlayStation using him as a rider all the time in 2004 as he was champion in 250cc,” Zarco said. “Then four years after in 2008 after I won the Rookies’ Cup I spent some time in Barcelona in early 2008 when I was at Alberto [Puig]’s academy and I met Dani at a go-kart track that we were going some training with supermoto.

“It was me, Danny Kent, Jonas Folger and maybe Takaaki Nakagami. He was a MotoGP rider then and he was so far I could only follow him for a couple of laps on the limit. I was my first contact on the same track with a MotoGP rider and I could see my level.”

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