Dani Pedrosa is used to playing second fiddle. During his 13-year MotoGP career, the Spanish rider finished second or third in the year-end standings six times. Marc Marquez’s arrival at the Repsol Honda squad in 2013 only cemented Pedrosa’s backseat status. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, Pedrosa retired from MotoGP without a title to his name in 2018.
That all changed when the Little Samurai assumed a testing role with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team in 2019. With the Austrian marque struggling to remain competitive in the hyper-technological Premier Class, Pedrosa’s development input nudged the project in the right direction.
Initially, number 26 sidestepped calls to participate in a MotoGP race as a Wildcard entry. Teams frequently utilize Wildcard rounds so test riders can assess the package in a racing environment, which yields data one can’t attain in a testing session. In 2020, Pedrosa relented, noting that he would entertain Wildcard opportunities in the future.
That chance arrived at the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix, more than two years following Pedrosa’s retirement. In 2023, the thrice vice-champion will return to battle on his home soil at the Spanish Grand Prix.
In a social media post, the 37-year-old rider confirmed that he would compete at the Circuito de Jerez track on April 28-30, 2023. Pedrosa also revealed that the objective of his Wildcard weekend lies in evaluating the KTM RC16’s performance throughout the new Sprint Race format. With three practice sessions, two qualifying sessions, a half-distance Sprint Race, and a full-distance Grand Prix ahead of him, the MotoGP Legend has his work cut out.
However, Pedrosa achieved encouraging results during his 2021 Styrian GP outing. After crashing on the third lap and triggering a restart, the Little Samurai ultimately finished the race in the top ten. One thing is clear in 2023, though, Pedrosa will get two shots (Sprint Race and Grand Prix) at improving his results.