I remember the first time I saw Makoto Tamada. I was watching a World Superbike round from Japan on television, and this local wild card rider named Makoto Tamada (I believe he was on a Cabin Honda at the time) absolutely smoked everyone. The guy looked very precise, and obviously very fast.
Entering his third year in MotoGP, Tamada has already won two GPs and been on pole.
Returning with Honda this year, he is now on Michelin tires (previously on Bridgestones), and he absolutely destroyed his competition at the Losail tests in Qatar a few days ago, posting a fastest lap 7/10ths quicker than any of his rivals. He is obviously adjusting to the Michelin tires quickly, and Tamada may really be the guy to step up and be considered Honda’s best rider outside the Repsol team (a position perennially belonging to Sete Gibernau).
At 28 years of age, Tamada is hardly the youngest guy in the paddock, but he is nevertheless quite a bit younger than Gibernau, Biaggi, Barros and Bayliss, all of whom are well into their 30s. Tamada does not draw much attention to himself, except when he is running at the front. Expect him to draw plenty of attention this coming season.