HRC's communication and marketing director Livio Suppo has offered an interesting personal take on rider/bike perceptions in MotoGP.
Suppo, who was team manager at Ducati from 2003-2009 before moving to the management role at Honda, admits that having more than one 'outstanding' rider in a team can be tough to manage.
But he believes the human element involved in MotoGP makes it is essential for the overall brand.
The Italian argues that two (or more) of the very best riders not only creates a greater chance of success as they spur each other on, but the perception of the motorcycle also changes.
“Unfortunately, since 2007, the only riders to win MotoGP races in normal circumstances have been Valentino, Casey, Jorge and Dani,” said Suppo, speaking outside the Repsol Honda garage during last week's Sepang MotoGP test.
“The other three wins - Chris Vermeulen, Loris Capirossi and Andrea Dovizioso - were influenced by the weather.
“Of those four riders, two of them have been on Yamaha. For the other brands this has been a problem because once you have the reputation of having the best bike everything is much easier. The riders feel it is up to them and the young riders all want to ride for you.
“It has happened before. When Max Biaggi was at Yamaha he won, but not so much, and so when I was talking to him [about a factory Ducati ride for 2003] in his mind it was 'without a Honda in this championship you cannot win'.
“This is why I told [Claudio] Domenicali and Filippo [Preziosi] 'I know on paper Max is stronger, but Loris [Capirossi] has been in a satellite team for three years and he is dreaming of a factory ride. The other has been four years in a factory team and he is dreaming of a satellite Honda!'"
Capirossi went on to claim Ducati's first MotoGP race win in only their sixth race.
“Another example: After Aragon last year, Jorge [Lorenzo] was really down,” Suppo continued. “He was off the podium for the first time that year and hadn't won for a few races.
“Crucially, Valentino was not back to his best and had not been pushing him. So Jorge started to talk more and more about the bike having problems and how the Honda with Dani had improved so much.