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Randy Mamola looks back on the Sepang test

Randy Mamola looks back on the Sepang test

Randy Mamola looks back on the Sepang test

First of all, Happy New Year to everybody. It's been a long winter for all of us and I'm sure that, like me, you're already waiting for that first race to get underway at Jerez on April 10th.

In a way, the season started last week at Sepang, and it was interesting to follow the news and lap times here at The only shame with these tests is that unless you are there, it's really difficult to work out what is going on. The fastest lap time of each rider is only half of the story and it's just as hard for me as it is for you to look beyond that.

For instance, I'd love to know if Loris Capirossi was able to do that amazing lap time with the Desmosedici GP5 consistently on race tyres, and whether Sete Gibernau is telling the truth when he says he was setting a steady pace in 2'02!

One thing we know for certain is that the same guys were back at the top, and everybody was trying to beat Valentino Rossi. Valentino seemed pretty consistent out there and, reading his quotes and speaking to people who were out there, he was happy with the way the '05 spec bike was developing.

This time of year is crucial to the way a season pans out, because it is a chance for the factories, suspension technicians and tyre specialists to all get together with their updated material and work out how to fit it all together in the best way. Last year Yamaha made an unbelievable job, responding to Valentino's requests to come up with a bike capable of beating Honda at the official tests in March and then, of course, of winning the World Championship.

They caught Honda out cold but I don't think that will happen this time around. Honda had a lot of guys out in Sepang all working to gather data for their 2005 machines, which I think was the most important factor of this test. They are desperate to win the title back and the changes they have made to their factory team and the effort they are putting in to building a competitive bike on time shows that.

For me, the key to their progress could be the return of Erv Kanemoto. Erv is exactly what HRC were missing in 2004. When they lost Valentino Rossi there is no doubt they lost the best rider, but in losing Jeremy Burgess they also lost their sense of direction and I think it affected the whole team, even Nicky Hayden, because Jeremy's influence was so strong in that garage.

Honda clearly know what they are doing when it comes to making a motorcycle but in a MotoGP pit garage somebody needs to be there to make the decisions on how the bike is set up at each racetrack, to provide the link between the mechanics, engineers and factory and, most of all, to be able to relate to the riders and transfer their feedback into relevant set-up information.

Erv is the ideal man for the job and, having worked with Max in his first spell at Honda, they should form a great partnership again.

I guess the results of their first efforts together will be seen in the next test at Sepang, when Honda wheel out those '05 spec machines for the first time and Valentino Rossi finds out what he is really up against.

MotoGP, 2005

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