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Who Can Develop Honda’s MotoGP Bike?

With Yamaha taking three of the top four qualifying positions for tomorrow’s Assen MotoGP race (with Rossi on pole), you have to wonder when Honda’s supposed technological advantage will kick in.

Behind that initial thought is this. Even if Honda has the technology to develop a MotoGP machine that will outperform the machines developed by its competitors, which of the Honda riders can provide the feedback to engineers and tuners necessary to get the most out of the technology? The general consensus is that Valentino Rossi is the best development rider in MotoGP. He provides concise, accurate feedback when testing. Something that is not so simple for most other riders in MotoGP, and something that is essential to the development of a winning bike.

In other words, all the technology in the world won’t help you if you don’t have the right feedback from your test riders. Data logging is clearly not enough. Helpful, yes. But not enough. The rider needs to tell you what he is feeling and what the bike is doing. More importantly, the rider needs to tell you how the bike is reacting to changes in suspension, chassis geometry, tires, etc. The rider needs to tell you these things accurately, and in a manner which is useful in moving development of the bike forward. Rossi is the acknowledged master at this. Rossi, of course, now works for Yamaha.

Honda may have a talented development rider, or two, but this writer doesn’t know of one that comes close to Rossi’s skill in this area.