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Although Honda played it down and said it didn't make much difference, the introduction of their new top secret trick gearbox/clutch coincided with a noticable improvement in lap times, and the introduction of a revised chassis mid-season also showed immediate benefits.
How much these two factors contributed to Dani's late season surge is difficult to evaluate, but Dani deserves credit for playing their advantages to the full.
It is likely that Yamaha will introduce their own transmission improvements in 2013, so it will be interesting to see if this bridges the shortfall in pace.