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GP Week : Issue 129
25 The MotoGP race was won by miles, and there were not that many over-takes after the first couple of laps. But it was tense to the end, and nobody could say it wasn’t worth watching. It made a nice change, after a number of sterile events in the last year of the unloved 800s. Big tracks make big races Honda’s domination gets stronger HONDAS filled the rostrum at Brno. If Pedrosa had not crashed out of the lead, it is highly likely that Hondas would have filled the top four places. The last time the top three were all on Hondas was five years ago, at Laguna Seca in 2006. The significance of the date is simple enough. Back then, the machines were 990cc, and Honda’s V5 was the class of the field, Rossi’s Yamaha prowess notwithstanding. The 800cc era began in 2007, and with it Honda’s years of depression. First Ducati and then Yamaha ran away with the big prizes, while the world’s biggest motorcycle company struggled to pick up the pace. This was doubly ironic because most blamed Honda for pushing forward the change in regulations that killed off the 990s and replaced them with the never- popular 800s. They were expected to be, as usual, the most ready of anybody for the new formula. The need to succeed in the class became more acute year by year, especially when its replacement by 1000cc bikes next year (“real motorbikes”, as some call them) drew closer. The engineering push started in earnest last year, and has continued apace. It’s not just engineering, of course. The real key to success in 2011 has been the acquisition of Casey Stoner. Incumbent factory rider Dani Pedrosa was often fast enough, but fragile physically and also less than consistent. It’s Stoner who has made the Big H big again. Today (Monday), the 1000cc Honda will be seen in public for the first time, but it is common cause that the bike will be impressive. Ducati’s 2012 bike has also been out and been quick ... but not to the same scale as the Honda was at Jerez tests. The rivals are waiting in trepidation to see what they will see at the tests. And even if the bike isn’t as amazing as the paddock talk suggests ... well, they will still have Stoner to make it so. MOTOGP BRNO >>