The Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli continues to smile at Dani Pedrosa. Present as a wild card (the second of the season) at the GP of San Marino and the Riviera di Rimini, the expert KTM test rider produced an excellent performance in this afternoon's Tissot Sprint, crossing the finish line in fourth position as the best rider of the Austrian manufacturer. Starting from fifth place on the grid, the Spanish racer narrowly missed out on the podium, only due to the strenuous defence of a stoic Francesco Bagnaia, who was good at closing all the doors for him.
“I am satisfied with my race. Compared to Jerez, I got the start right and this allowed me to keep in the slipstream of the Ducatis. Honestly, I was surprised by the pace of Martin and Bezzecchi, they were going very fast at the start - admitted the number 26 - as the laps continued I tried to get back on Bagnaia's tail, I succeeded, but I couldn't find the gap to overtake him because he defended like a phenomenon, closing every possible and imaginable door to me. It's a shame because I could have been on the podium!”.
There was a silver lining however. The desire to grab third position was concrete, even though the opportunity was useful to closely study the behaviour of the GP23 of the reigning World Champion: "Although he was probably not in top form, as I was behind him I was able to focus on his riding style, how his bike works and how he uses it. I noticed some differences between KTM and Ducati, I still don't know if they can be attributed to the strengths of the Desmosedici or Bagnaia himself. However, we will analyse the data to increase our performance in certain areas, in others we are already strong."
Apparently, the former 125cc and 250cc World Champion had more than Bagnaia. Instead, the decisive attack never arrived: “When I was furthest from Bagnaia I could ride freely and follow my trajectories. However, when I got under him, I had to adapt to the different reactions of my bike. The ideal would be to ride with a clear track in front of you."
For the Sunday race he is a candidate to play a leading role, with the same objective: "My sensations are better with the medium than with the soft - he explained - the key for tomorrow will be managing the first laps, today in that situation Martin and Bezzecchi made the difference. The podium? We will see. I'll try, that's for sure!”.
At 37 years old he still has the speed of a kid. Is he still good or are there no longer any champions of the past in modern MotoGP? Pedrosa expressed his personal point of view: “There have been a lot of talented riders in the past like Lorenzo, Stoner and Rossi. Nonetheless, just as many promising riders emerged from that period onwards. Look at the speed expressed today by Martin, I was amazed. Or Bagnaia, immediately in the top-3 despite having just recovered from a violent incident."
And he added: “Now that I'm this age, if I stop to think about the day Valentino Rossi won his last race at 38, or Loris Capirossi at 37, at that time I, who was very young, didn't value enough the fact that they were able to win at that age. Now that I have those years, I'm back racing some races and I'm fighting in front with the young guys, now I know that racing at the top level with all these years is more difficult than doing it when you're younger. No doubt.”
As a great team man, he is keen to praise the work of his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: “Together we are doing an exceptional job and the bike is improving more and more, factors that help when you come back to face a race weekend a few months away."
One final word about Mike Trimby, founder and CEO of IRTA who tragically passed away last night: "Although we had no interpersonal relationship it is a shame that he left us like this".