The 31-time MotoGP race winner is making a wildcard appearance this weekend at Jerez with KTM, marking just his second outing since retiring from full-time competition at the end of 2018.
Though he tested recently at Jerez on the RC16, Pedrosa was still stunned when he topped FP1 with a 1m36.770s on Friday morning.
This time kept him third on the combined order come the end of the day’s running and has secured him a place directly in Q2 for qualifying.
Pedrosa says his speed has been “unexpected”, but he feels he would be getting ahead of himself if he was to start thinking about podium challenges in Saturday’s sprint race.
“Very good day, unexpected, for me and for the team and for the fans,” Pedrosa, who last raced at the Styrian GP in 2021, said.
“It was a surprise, this morning especially. I had a good feeling. It’s actually my first 1m36s at this track.
“So, really happy to improve my lap time with the [soft tyre]. This is nice.
“In the afternoon it was more difficult the track, with the wind and the hot conditions.
“But some of the riders were really fast but the track was worse. But overall, we are happy. Going into Q2 is not something that’s easy to do.
“That’s a lot to ask [fighting for a sprint podium]. I don’t know what to expect.
“Anyway first, we have qualifying and then in the race you have to do overtakes.
“And I don’t know how I will handle the overtakes because it’s been a long time. So, [I will take it] as it comes.”
Dani Pedrosa, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Pedrosa’s sole aim this weekend is to gather data for KTM to help further development of the RC16, and already feels riding with the rest of the grid has been beneficial in this regard.
“It’s really helpful to learn about the difference between following [riders] and not following,” he added.
“So, when I’m not following [riders] in the test I can say ‘this is better now, but a question mark for when you follow’.
“I can say ‘you must check this in that condition, or this could be good in a certain moment’. It’s just getting more experience to have a bigger picture.”
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