Dani Pedrosa still is searching for that elusive first MotoGP World Championship in his eighth season in the premier class, all with the Repsol Honda Team.
But when it comes to racing in the United States, Pedrosa already is the all-time king among active Honda riders.
Spaniard Pedrosa has won three MotoGP races in America, more than any other active Honda rider. He was victorious in 2009 at Laguna Seca and won in 2010 and 2012 at Indianapolis. The second victory at Indy put Pedrosa in exclusive company at that event, as he is the only rider to win at the fabled Brickyard more than once since MotoGP first kissed the bricks in 2008.
Tenacity is the common denominator among all three of Pedrosa’s victories on American soil.
He entered the United States Grand Prix in July 2009 still feeling the effects of injuries suffered during crashes in the preseason and at the Italian Grand Prix in late May at Mugello. Both Pedrosa and Honda were winless since capturing the Grand Prix of Catalunya in June 2008 and were searching for any secret of success in the rolling hills of Northern California.
Pedrosa started fourth but rocketed to the lead on the first lap and never trailed. But the victory still had its share of drama, as Pedrosa slowed on the final lap to preserve his tires and the victory and allowed seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi to close to within inches of Pedrosa’s rear wheel exiting the last of the 11 corners at Laguna.
But Pedrosa used Honda horsepower to pull away on his 800cc RC212V for the victory by just .344 of a second over Rossi. The victory earned Pedrosa even more respect when he revealed after the race that his drinking tube failed during the race and he ended the race dehydrated.
In 2010 at Indianapolis, Pedrosa started fifth on a scorching day with air temperatures reaching 92 degrees Fahrenheit. He climbed to second by Lap 4 and continued to cut into the lead of pole sitter Ben Spies.
Pedrosa doggedly chased Spies, applying more and more pressure every lap until passing for the lead on the main straightaway on Lap 7. Pedrosa led the rest of the race on his No. 26 Repsol Honda Team machine, beating Spies to the line by 3.575 seconds.
The 2010 victory at Indianapolis also provided a measure of redemption for Pedrosa, who crashed out of the lead on Lap 4 after starting from pole in 2009 at the fabled Brickyard. He knew he let that victory get away and was determined to avoid that same fate the next year.
Pedrosa dominated the Indianapolis Grand Prix in 2012, winning from the pole on his 1000cc RC213V. He ended up beating championship rival and fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo by 10.823 seconds, the largest margin of victory in the MotoGP class in the five-year history of the Indianapolis GP.
The victory was the easiest of Pedrosa’s three wins in America, but it was crucial in his effort to catch Lorenzo in the championship standings. Pedrosa continued his relentless pursuit of Lorenzo, pulling to within 18 points of Lorenzo with seven races remaining.
Pedrosa also continued a stretch of form with the victory at Indianapolis that saw him win six of the last eight races of the 2012 season.
The three overall victories by Pedrosa at Laguna and Indianapolis also show his versatility as a rider.
Laguna is a hilly natural-terrain road circuit featuring the infamous “Corkscrew” turn that drops 59 feet – the equivalent of a 5 ½-story building – in just 450 feet of track length. Indianapolis, meanwhile, is a billiard table-flat circuit that includes sections in the infield and parts of the world-famous oval.
Pedrosa and retired MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner are the only riders to win on a Honda in the premier class at the diabolically opposite American circuits. Stoner won twice at Laguna and once at Indy, the opposite of Pedrosa’s strike rate in the States.