THE LONG ROAD TO REDEMPTIO

Dani Pe­drosa looked like the man to beat at the end of 2015, but af­ter strug­gling in win­ter test­ing his 2016 chal­lenge has faded be­fore it’s even be­gun Va­len­cia 2015 - 3rd Sepang 2016 - 11th 8th Phillip Is­land 2016 - Qatar 2016 - 10th

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Motogp Preview - By Si­mon Patterson MO­TOGP REPORTER

fter his re­nais­sance dur­ing the se­cond half of 2015, Dani Pe­drosa looked like a man set to con­tinue his re­demp­tion by fight­ing for the ti­tle in 2016. With new Miche­lin tyres to suit his high-corner­speed 250GP rid­ing style and less elec­tronic re­straints, Pe­drosa was widely be­ing viewed as the dark horse of the forth­com­ing sea­son.

But on the verge of the sea­son opener in Qatar, that prom­ise looks to have fallen apart af­ter a win­ter of night­mare test­ing where he has strug­gled to get to grips with the lat­est gen­er­a­tion Honda RC213V, leav­ing him de­void of con­fi­dence.

Mak­ing his lack of pace even harder to swal­low is the fact that af­ter he re­turned from ca­reer­sav­ing arm pump surgery he was a rev­e­la­tion tak­ing two wins in con­trol­ling fash­ion.

“Last year I fin­ished very strong, but un­for­tu­nately now the tech­ni­cal sit­u­a­tion is very dif­fer­ent. We are strug­gling with the new com­bi­na­tion, and we are not as fast as we were last year at the end of the sea­son. We need to step up and we need more time. Maybe we don’t start as strong as we fin­ish, but we will try to do the best we can.

“We know we are not in the best shape, it is a shame, but we need to ac­cept it and try to work

Afor the first race and just try and get the best re­sult we can from there. We don’t know how much we can do from where we are.”

Try­ing to re­main up­beat but left vis­i­bly frus­trated and terse af­ter the fi­nal day of pre-sea­son test­ing in Qatar, Pe­drosa ad­mit­ted that while the team have now started to come to grips with the trou­ble­some new elec­tron­ics, fix­ing one is­sue sim­ply re­vealed an­other to them.

“For me, the prob­lems at this mo­ment are more with the chas­sis – mak­ing the bike go round the cor­ners faster; we are los­ing a lot of cor­ner speed. We need to make some changes, to test some things. We don’t know how much ground we can gain, but we have to be as pos­i­tive as pos­si­ble to try and gain some.”

With such a neg­a­tive test­ing pro­gramme, though, Pe­drosa says he knew what to ex­pect at the Qatar test – on a track he ad­mits to hav­ing no great love for.

“Qatar is not my favourite cir­cuit; I al­ways strug­gle and I’ve never won here, which should tell you that it is not my favourite!

“With all of the data ob­tained in the last few tests, the tech­ni­cians back in Ja­pan will work to try to make some changes ahead of the first Grand Prix. We’ll see if they are favourable, and if they will help us get some bet­ter per­for­mance for the race.”

now we must try to make more laps and try to un­der­stand bet­ter.”

Honda also set­tled on the spec of their en­gine, fi­nally de­cid­ing on what model will be sealed for the sea­son ahead of the Qatar race, as per Mo­togp rules ban­ning in-sea­son en­gine de­vel­op­ment.

En­gi­neered to be less ag­gres­sive than the 2015 model, Honda boss Livio Suppo ad­mit­ted that the late de­ci­sion has af­fected much of their test­ing.

“The new en­gine has dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics, and we prob­a­bly need to work on that now. Un­for­tu­nately, this win­ter we lost many days when the elec­tron­ics were not work­ing.

“Now the bikes are not 100% but it’s much bet­ter, and now we can start to im­prove the set-up. Un­for­tu­nately, this win­ter we have tested so many changes that it hasn’t been easy.”

‘Mar­quez told MCN the wings changed the char­ac­ter­is­tics

of the bike’

Many thought new Miche­lins would suit Pe­drosa’s high cor­ner speed style, but test­ing’s shown oth­er­wise

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