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GP Week : Issue 123
AndreA dovizioso’s hard-fought defeat of his factory repsol Honda team-mate Casey Stoner could turn out to be a landmark in a struggle within the team. Uniquely in modern racing Honda field three riders. This costs them in the Teams’ Championship, where normally both riders’ points count. For HRC, the best and the worst riders’ points count – ie, today Dovi in second and Dani in eighth. And never mind that Stoner was third. Never mind anyway, Honda leads the championship. More interesting to outside observers is how the balance of power is arranged within the garage, and how it subtly shifts from one race to the next. Stoner joined as the top rider, a position established as he led early tests. Pedrosa, however, still has huge influence, not just from his five years long service with the team. He is also closely linked with the Repsol sponsorship, while his feared team manager Alberto Puig holds a lot of sway within racing generally, and surprisingly also with Honda. Dovizioso was left very much to suck the hind teat. In fact it was clear he was only retained after he resisted being shoved off to a satellite team to make way for Stoner, pointing out that the terms of his contract guaranteed him a full factory entry. Since the start of the season Stoner’s star has risen still further, while Dani has suffered some knocks. People now talk about how he is riding to save his job. Against this background Dovizioso has had to strive to be noticed. When the 2012 1000 was wheeled out for testing, he wasn’t invited. His presence has been little better than shadowy. Until last Sunday. He spoke with glee about the importance of being the first Italian to finish at Mugello. Unsaid was the more significant importance of being the first Honda. Top Dog, and the kennel games at Honda MOTOGP MUGELLO >> 27