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GP Week : Issue 65
decisive factor, but the engineers deserve some credit: Yamaha's, in this case, for his arrival coincided with their inspired revised-firing- interval crankshaft, turning the compact in-line engine into a virtual V4 and transforming its effective performance. But Rossi clearly means something more than just good riding skills and race- craft. What the rider and his extremely important side-kick Burgess bring is a clarity and focus to effective (rather than merely academic) machine development. Their legacy lingered on at Honda for a year or two after he left: the bike they left behind remained a multiple winner. The same effect has kicked in rapidly at Yamaha, whose current machine seems to suit almost everyone else who climbs on it. It is this pinnacle of development that Rossi is so reluctant to hand on to Lorenzo: but by now it is too late. The question at the other end of pit row is simple: what can Honda do to reverse the balance of power? The answer is no different from what it has ever been: "We must work harder." And, technically speaking, try new equipment. As in the case of Öhlins. This is not always easy for a company used to setting its own pace, though Honda did manage in the past, with the switch from Nissin to Brembo brakes. One remaining ancillary must surely be the next target: and it might be the most important one of all. Honda, along with Suzuki, runs its own in-house electronics. Nobody has ever thought of this as a disadvantage: the company's F1 knowledge in this sphere was envied. (The opposite is true of Suzuki, with its Mitsubishi electronics.) But electronics is the last remaining significant difference. And it cannot have escaped HRC's attention that Yamaha's success redoubled after it upgraded to the highest level of Magneti Marelli electronics already used by Ducati, and also eventually by Kawasaki. But how to recapture the right focus of development? Well, there's only one Rossi. And the chances of him returning to Honda are negligible. HRC must focus on the riders it has. Dani Pedrosa has redeemed a fading reputation this year, fighting back from injury, and also showing a hitherto well-concealed willingness to fight hard on the track. Andrea Dovizioso has not covered himself with glory, but he is new and has also shown growing strength. At the Misano briefing, Nakamoto also revealed a slight shift within the team, with Pedrosa's much-feared manager Alberto Puig taken out of the technical loop for 2010. This may refine the development focus between Pedrosa and crew chief Mike Honda's golden days with Valentino Rossi are a distant memory now. 36