Dani Pedrosa is a 125cc motorcycle Grand Prix World Champion and the youngest two-time World Champion in 250cc Grand Prix history. The Spanish motorcycle racer was born Daniel Pedrosa Ramal on September 29, 1985 in Castellar del Valles near Sabadell, Spain. He started riding very early at the age of four when he got his first motorbike, an Italjet 50 with side wheels. By the time he was six he was racing on minibikes, but the machines, circuits and races were all just play to him and his friends.
Supported by his parents and his younger brother Eric, Dani joined his first big race—the Spanish Minibike Championship—in 1996 when he was 10. They went to the circuits lugging Dani’s bike in the trunk of the family car. He made his first podium finish in the second race, and by the end of the season placed 2nd overall. The experience encouraged him to enter the next year’s competition and despite the chicken pox that he suffered at the beginning of the season, he finished at third place by the end of the 1997 Spanish Minibike Championship.
However, there came a time when he decided to quit minibikes for mountain bikes because it was impossible for his family to financially support entering him in the promotion races. He was ready to get his license for bicycle racing when his family learned of an upcoming Movistar Activa Cup, a promotion that provided its own competition bikes. But these were real racing bikes and not the minibikes that Dani was used to. Still, the 13-year old sent an entry, borrowed a bike and learned riding the bigger machine just one weekend before the Cup’s trials. The bike was too big and his legs weren’t even long enough to reach the ground but he qualified. He finished in eighth position for the competition, but even better—he was discovered by Alberto Puig along with only two other racers, Joan Olive and Raul Jara. The three competed as part of the Movistar Junior Team in the 2000 Spanish Championship, where Dani finished fourth.
Puig quickly promoted him to the 125cc category. In 2001, Dani competed in his first 125cc Motorcycle World Championship and got the world’s attention when he finished 3rd overall. By 2003 and at only 18 years old, he became the World Champion in the 125cc class. Unfortunately, a crash while practicing broke both his ankles just a week after winning the title.
After his recovery, Dani Pedrosa made a surprising comeback to the circuits, this time moving up to the 250cc category. He not only bagged the Rookie of the Year award in his first year but triumphed over the competition when he became the 2004 250cc World Champion. He broke the record of being the only teenager in history, after Sito Pons, to win the 250cc Championship. He now holds the distinction of being the youngest double-champion in that class, when he again achieved victory in 2005.
In 2006, he debuted in the MotoGP World Championship, adapting quite well to his new 990cc machine, with its heavier bulk and higher HP. He got another Rookie award and placed 5th overall that year. Dani Pedrosa, riding for Repsol Honda, faced another challenge of adapting to an 800cc MotoGP bike in 2007.