There would have been a time in the past when Dani Pedrosa would have crumbled in conditions as bad as those that severely disrupted yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
But with rain lashing down to provide the toughest conditions imaginable, Pedrosa buried his wet weather jinx in emphatic fashion to claim a first ever Grand Prix victory in the rain.
Pedrosa mastered the diabolical conditions with such aplomb that it was hard to remember how rain races had previously been the big thorn in his side.
It has taken his entire career to this point to build up his delicate confidence in the rain. He has worked tirelessly when confronted with rain conditions in MotoGP. And away from the paddock he has honed his skills to master the technique of being as fast and competitive in the rain as he is in the dry.
How he has gone from being so slow and timid in the rain to be unbeatable in yesterday’s Malaysian monsoon will remain a closely guarded secret.
But whatever he has done to instil such speed and confidence in the rain ensured he kept the pressure on compatriot Jorge Lorenzo in the 2012 title chase.
Yesterday’s win in a shortened race, as the weather made conditions too dangerous to ride in was his third in a row. Never before in his MotoGP career has he embarked on such a hot streak of form.
He’s now won five out of the last six races and Honda eight out of the last 10, and he trails Lorenzo by 23-points with just two races remaining.
With Lorenzo still to finish lower than second in the 15 races he’s seen the chequered flag this season, the title though still appears to be a long shot for Pedrosa.
He said: “I just try to keep focussed and riding well and that’s all I can do. But I am so happy because in the wet I knew I had to start the race and try and have a good feeling. We didn’t practice in the wet at all this weekend but right from the start it was good. This is my first ever victory in the wet, so I am very happy because I worked very hard to improve in this area. I was very weak when I started racing and it takes a lot of time for me to learn and get more confident. I am really happy and I want to thank all those people that helped give me confidence. It was a very tough race and at the beginning Jorge was very fast, so I just tried to follow and not to lose too much time. I knew he was on the soft rear so he could do some good laps in the beginning but lap-by-lap I get more confident and I can still push. At halfway I tried to pass and make a gap and some laps later the rain came really heavy and it was really hard in the last lap.”
Pedrosa agreed the race could not have continued for much longer as aquaplaning and visibility became major issues.
He added: “Maximum we could have gone for one more lap. Some parts of the track the water was getting very deep and the last time I was on the straight I was at half throttle in every gear. When I see the red flag I thought immediately it was over but when I came in I see they didn’t allow us to go to the Parc Ferme, so then I was a bit confused about doing a race for six laps.”
With no sign though of the torrential rain easing, the scheduled restart over seven laps was abandoned and full world championship points were awarded.