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GP Week : Issue 178
HONDA – WHOSE TURN THIS TIME? YAMAHA – THE SEETHING TEAM Technically superior, the major interest in the Honda ranks is human. Long-ser ving Dani Pedrosa is now notionally number one, with xxxx years of experience and xxxx race wins. The small Spaniard reached top form last year, and came closer than ever to a top title. Marquez, however, had joined the ranks – like a meteor. Still gaining familiarity with the power and the electronic possibilities of MotoGP, Marc was immediately (in Valencia last year) within tenths of his team-mate. The walkover Moto2 champion can only get faster. The Spanishness is an extra dimension. Pedrosa has enjoyed the personal and indeed patient backing of HRC team sponsor Repsol for years. Now a young compatriot is a serious threat. Satellite riders Bradl and Alvaro Bautista (both also with the seamless gearbox) were about a second adrift, but ahead of all but one of the Japanese non-factory bikes. The exception was Cal Crutchlow, placed fourth overall at Sepang and in feisty form. The Englishman promises much for his third year in the class; the question will be the technical level of his Monster Tech 3 bike. Last year it was very close to factory spec, at least for the earlier races. It was, after all, a brand-new bike. But continuing development will inevitably favour the factory pair. They have concerns of their own. About the only thing Lorenzo and returned team-mate Rossi share is a desire for Yamaha to catch up with Honda’s gearbox advantage. This is an internecine battle of epic proportion. The status has changed in the two years Rossi has been away: Lorenzo is at least nominally the number one. Rossi’s stated aim in his return from the Ducati wilderness was “to see if I could still be competitive” . Roughly translated, that means “to try and beat Jorge” . Valentino has been on the pace, but not at the cutting edge, since returning to his beloved M1 – you might recall he wrote an open love letter to the bike when he decided to leave the team in a huff because of the attention given to Lorenzo. He was fifth at Sepang Two, behind Crutchlow but less than eight tenths off leader Lorenzo. The gap between the two was slightly smaller at Austen, but both lagged behind the Hondas. Rookie Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith was a respectable tenth at Sepang two, 1.7 seconds away. 37 GPWEEK.com // 37 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> FEATURE