The modern breed of peaky 800cc MotoGP bikes, it is said by some, would be almost unrideable without their extensive range of electronic riding aids.
As such, when sending a rookie out for his very first MotoGP laps, it might be expected that the team would crank the electronics to a maximum and then reduce the level of 'assistance' as time goes on.
So why did the new Interwetten Honda team do exactly the opposite with Hiroshi Aoyama?
Technical director Tom Jojic, with Honda's blessing, initially sent the final 250cc world champion out for his MotoGP debut at the Valencia test without electronic assistance - a tactic repeated during the Japanese star's second test at Sepang in late December.
“Basically at Valencia my idea was to limit the electronic aids - and Honda were happy for me to do that,” said Jojic, speaking exclusively to Crash.net
. “After I made the suggestion, Honda were happy to go in that direction also.”
A brave decision?
“Yeah... But we have to remember that although Hiro is a MotoGP rookie he is also a world champion,” he replied. “The guys that win races in this [MotoGP] world championship are basically all former 250cc world champions - Casey was close enough but never made it. These guys are the best riders in the world. If he can't control it nobody can.
“So what I wanted to do was, first of all, not put any pressure on Hiro from a lap time point of view. Because there is no need. We're testing. If we're slower than the rest in Valencia who cares? Because we've switched all the electronic aids off.
“And why hide a character trait in the bike from the rider, when ultimately he needs to learn what it's going to do?”
So you didn't want to 'numb' the true character of the bike through the electronics?
“Exactly. I wanted him to feel what the Honda is. Go out there, ride around and see what he thinks. I know we can switch electronics on and stop it doing certain things, but Hiro needs to know when to do that. He needs to know when to ask for the help.
“So that was the plan and in Valencia we did eventually start to turn some of the electronics on. Not a great deal. My philosophy is don't over-control anything. If he's complaining then we'll help him, if he isn't we'll leave him alone.
“We [the team] can look at the data and know, from our experience, how a MotoGP rider can change their style or where we need to help from our side by changing the bike. Our experience helps him and him being a world champion helps us. And the sooner he understands the bike the easier it is for him to ask for things.