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If you don't think the factories were dumping as much money into then as they are now (bar inflation) you're dreaming.
The only thing that has changed is where the focus of that money is spent. The satelite teams of old could compete because they could get tires to match the style of the rider. Hell, Rossi was competitive in 04 becuase Mich helped bail them out of set up issues with over night tires. Look what a solid set of tires could do for Toni Elias.
The teams are wasting too much money trying to change the bike to match the tires, be it through use of electonics or frame and powerplant adjustments. How much money do you think Kawi spent developing the bike to suit the Pirelli tires in WSBK?
Do you think it would be cheaper for Gresini Honda to pay for better tires or a brand new frame from HRC?