Everyone knows that Honda Motor Company have, without a shadow of doubt, been the prime movers behind the return and development of four-stroke engines in the Motorcycle Road Racing World Championship in the past decade. The MotoGP 990 era (2002-2006) saw the Japanese manufacturer achieve their greatest success - running an exotic V5 engine - first in the hands of Valentino Rossi and later in those of Nicky Hayden. The years on the 800's (2007-2011) were finally rewarded with a solitary crown at the very last attempt, thanks to the most successful rider of the 800cc class, Casey Stoner.
However, Honda's efforts to repeat that victory in the class they more or less invented translated into the slower development of the new-for-2012 MotoGP 1000cc prototype, and this time the closest man was the Spaniard, Dani Pedrosa. By the end of 2012 it was clear that Honda had the best 1000cc machine, but even if it was too late to close the gap to Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo, Pedrosa got one more victory than Lorenzo and got extremely close to the world title.
With Stoner now caught between fishing and racing V8 cars, Honda will make another strong bet on the 2013 title race, lining up Dani Pedrosa plus 2012 Moto2 World Champion Marc Márquez.
Motomatters.com had this correspondent in Madrid, attending the Repsol Honda Team official presentation last Friday, and had the chance to speak with both riders after the show. I thought I would never see some hallucinatory images in my life, such as seeing Shuhei Nakamoto walking and smoking on Méndez Álvaro Street, a very depressed area in the south east of Madrid for last two decades, now in a renovation process thanks to some big companies choosing the place to built their new aluminium/glassed headquarters. Designed around three colossal buildings, the surrounding garden seems to be inspired in the film "2001, a Space Odyssey", even more so with the signals and 'racetrack-look' small roads placed for the occasion.