Honda has denied 2014 will be Dani Pedrosa’s farewell season as a factory HRC rider after rookie teammate Marc Marquez wrapped up a historic MotoGP world title last season.
Last year was Pedrosa’s eighth in the Repsol Honda squad and with Casey Stoner retiring at the end of 2012, HRC expected the Spaniard to end his long pursuit of an elusive first premier class crown.
But a mid-season left shoulder injury when he was leading the championship at the Sachsenring in Germany was the beginning of the end of Pedrosa’s challenge.
He will be out of contract at the end of 2014 and some expect HRC to be preparing for his release unless he delivers a series of sensational performances in the early part of this season.
Honda are expected to renew interest in Yamaha number one Jorge Lorenzo, with the Spaniard one of several big name free agents for 2015.
HRC boss Livio Suppo though believes Pedrosa’s future is not in serious doubt, despite the 28-year-old being overshadowed by Marquez’s inspired first campaign.
Suppo told MCN recently: “Like it or not but Dani has always been a title contender. We saw him get injured in Germany when he was leading the championship and this had a big impact on his season. He has such bad luck and this has been unbelievable and like always I think he had the potential to be world champion. So I don’t see why he won’t be one of the strong contenders again.”
Asked whether Marquez’s instant success meant 2014 was a must-win scenario for Pedrosa, Suppo added: “If you want to have two riders very strong then tell me a name that is going to be stronger than Dani. He has been with HRC a long time and it is true it is a long time without winning the championship but there are only three riders that are in another league. And absolutely Dani is one of them. And if you want to have a very strong team then Dani deserves to be there and I think he will have the same chance to win again.”