Dani Pedrosa hopes to capitalise on no Stoner
With Casey Stoner off the scene, Dani Pedrosa is hoping to follow up a strong finish to last season with a maiden MotoGP world championship in 2013, the Spaniard said today.
The 27-year-old finished runner up to his compatriot Jorge Lorenzo last November, his third second place after similar finishes in 2007 and 2010 in his seven years in the sport's premium category.
His former Honda team mate and great rival Stoner made the surprise decision to retire at the end of last season aged only 27, saying he had fallen out of love with the sport having won 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 last season, 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 before it starts."
Pedrosa notched an impressive seven Grand Prix victories last season, pushing Lorenzo hard towards the end of the campaign, and Honda vice-president Shuhei Nakamoto was hopeful his leading rider could fulfill his potential.
"Dani finished last year very well," he said. "He showed the ability he has. If he can build on that this year he has a lot of possibilities to do well."
Pedrosa's new team mate is another Spaniard, 19-year-old Marc Marquez, who steps up a category from Moto2 where he was crowned 2012 world champion, to replace the Australian Stoner.
"There are high expectations and I am grateful that they have this much confidence in me. It is important for a rider," Marquez told Reuters TV.
"This year will be a new experience for me, an apprenticeship, and I will have to take it one step at a time.
"Stoner was always very quick and to be able to replace him is a privilege. But in the end I am me, not him.
"It is good to have this structure and all the experience around me, and it should be good for me if I take it on board."
MotoGP testing starts in Sepang in two weeks and the opening Grand Prix is in Qatar on April 7.