EUROPE FIGHTS BACK
When Rossi turned his back on unappreciative Honda to join underdogs Yamaha back at the end of 2003, it was to prove a point ...that it was the rider that made the difference, not the bike.
He succeeded, winning the first race of 2004 as well as the championship. Though not without a major technical upgrade by Yamaha, who introduced the transformative cross-plane crank engine in a completely revised chassis. And the success rang loud with the fans. It's the rider that matters. Especially when that rider is as lovable as Valentino.
Back in the factory boardrooms and in the world of hard-core motorcycle technophobes, there's another way of looking at it. The rider is important, obviously. Racing wouldn't be much fun without them. But they are only part of the deal.
That's why there is the constructors' championship. And why it's worth noting how the past decades since the advent of MotoGP four-strokes, the landscape has changed.
In the dim and distant past, this title went first to AJS then twice to Norton, but became an Italian playground for Gilera and then MV Agusta, right up until 1973, with a single interlude for Honda in 1966.
Between 1974 and 2020, with just one exception, the title was in a Japanese stranglehold. Yamaha had it for two years, Suzuki for seven, and then latterly Yamaha and Honda had control.
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The Perfect Surprise
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