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GP Week : Issue 163
20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Rossi left Honda because he wanted to prove it was the rider who made the difference. In fact, Honda already knew that. Under the right pressure, a rider can be inspired to go beyond himself. On the other hand, he might break. HRC is notorious for treating riders like light bulbs, (screw one out, screw another one in), but they also have a history of understanding how to make them burn a little brighter. The company is not as impersonal as it appears. The most reliable method is the team-mate twist. They’ve done it before, and now they’re doing it again. Next year ’s pairing of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez is a marriage made in hell. Especially for Dani. It evokes memories of Honda’s 1989 line-up. Honda actually put the squeeze on their 1987 champion Wayne Gardner from two directions. Creating a special new independent team, they signed up Eddie Lawson, his victor last year on a Yamaha. Wayne got hurt early on, Eddie would win a classic championship. But the real parallel was within the official Rothmans Honda squad, where they signed on Wayne’s fellow countryman Mick Doohan. A pairing that really hurt. Which was the top Australian? It’s the same at Repsol, except this time it’s Spanish. Of course next year will be makee-learnee for Marquez, as 1989 was for Doohan. And last chance for Dani. Because in 2013 it will come to a serious head. Honda really has shown a lot of patience towards Dani. This is his seventh year with the factory team, and in 107 starts he has racked up just 16 wins. There’s never been any doubt about his speed, but he is fragile physically, and in other areas. Even when not nursing an injury, Dani is not known for enjoying hand-to-hand combat. He’s a percentages man, and the trouble is so is Jorge, and he’s currently better at it than Dani. To be fair, Dani has got conspicuously better at duking it out over the past couple of years, and there’s a small part of me that hopes he will win this year. Though I fear he is still too prepared to come second. Honda have renewed Dani’s contract because neither rider nor team had much other choice, but in previous years it has been as much by the influence of Spanish sponsors Repsol, and Dani’s eminence grise manager Alberto Puig. His long reign is now severely threatened, by the teenager, who looks to have the talent to oust him not just from the rostrum, not just from the factory team, but also from Repsol’s deep pockets. Dani’s career is on the verge of being disassembled. The first person to beat, they always say, is your team- mate. In 2013, Marc’s second year, the cliché will be written in letters ten foot high in the Repsol Honda garage. In the post-Stoner years, that’ll be something for Honda, and the fans, to look forward to. OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor HONDA'S HELLISH MARRIAGE BROKERS DO IT AGAIN OPINION So Dani, with Casey gone life's going to be a little easier huh ... NOT!