End of the "rider" era?
Rossi - wins 125s, wins 250s, wins 500s, wins 4strokes, sees off the "old guard", switches manufacturers and wins, Ducati come good with a bike, he loses. Next season injured. Then, Duke seems basically not to work except for the rider it was designed around. Much power, but handles like a shopping trolley "they" say. So who do you need? The skillful, but wild. That'd be Stoner, Rossi and Hayden then.
But.....on comes traction control, launch control, anti-wheelie, switchable engine mapping. All those skills of taking to the limit and yet preserving tyres, learning how to get the best of dead tyres, sliding it in....all replaced by a CPU.
1) At a place like Estoril, twisty with a big straight, the handling bike is meant to win the twisty bid, the power bike down the straight = close racing. Now, they all cover the twisty at the same pace, all go down the straight in formation.
2) If a bike is worth 10/10, and the electronics can get it to 8/10, a decent rider can get 9/10 most of the time (Pedrosa), and top riders get 10/10 (Stoner, Lorenzo). If your bike is only worth 8/10, you have to be perfect all the time just to keep up (Satalite Yams and Hondas). And if your Ducati is only worth 7/10......
The "package" of bike and rider used to be the thing that mattered. Can't help thinking that it will increasingly be bike more than rider, and ever more electrcs package more than basic mechanicals.
Too bad we didn't get Rossi and Hayden on Dukes 8 years ago, sliding and powering around; with Stoner, Lorenzo, Edwards being millimetre perfect for contrast. 2 styles and close racing. Instead we have a race mainly decided by qualifying and electrics support. Just like Formula(ic) 1.