Pedrosa, Marquez set for 2013
TAKING ON THE WORLD: Dani Pedrosa (left) and new team mate Marc Marquez at the launch of the Honda MotoGP team in Madrid, Spain, in January 2013. Image: AFP
Author: Silvio Castellanos
MADRID, Spain - Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, given Casey Stoner will be off the scene in 2013, is hoping to follow a strong finish to the 2012 MotoGP season with his first World championship in 2013.
The 27-year-old was runner up to compatriot Jorge Lorenzo in November 2012, his third second-place after 2007 and 2010 in his seven years the premium category.
Stoner, his former Honda team mate and great rival, made the surprise decision to retire at the end of 2012 aged only 27. He said he had fallen out of love with the sport after two MotoGP World championships.
"We hope it is a good opportunity," Pedrosa told Reuters Television at the presentation of the Repsol Honda team in Madrid, "but every year is different. I hope I can take up where I left off in 2012 with the same energy, strength and confidence.
"I have been training well and I hope to arrive at the first race in good shape. There is still a lot of work to do on the bike. There have been a lot of changes in the rules and we need to refine everything."
Pedrosa won seven GP races in 2012 and was pushing Lorenzo hard towards the end of the season and Honda vice-president Shuhei Nakamoto was hopeful that his leading rider could fulfill his potential.
"Dani finished 2012 very well," he said. "He showed his ability. If he can build on that he has a lot of possibilities to do well."
'STONER ALWAYS QUICK'
Pedrosa's new team mate will be another Spaniard, 19-year-old Marc Marquez, the 2012 Moto2 World champion. He said at the team introduction: "There are high expectations and I am grateful that they have this much confidence in me. It is important for a rider. 2013 will be a new experience for me - an apprenticeship - which I will have to take one step at a time.
"Stoner was always very quick and to replace him is a privilege but, in the end I am me, not him."
MotoGP testing will start in Sepang in mid-February 2013. The first MotoGP will be in Qatar on April 7.