Anyone remember the days of AMA 250's and Rich Oliver's dominance in the last decade of them?
He got a wildcard ride at Laguna Seca back in the '90's on a rented World spec 250, back then all the classes came to Laguna. He was way down in the field in practice, and the Aokis, Hardadas, Biaggis and Melandris of the age were embarassingly quicker.
Some journo asked him what he had to do to catch up, Olivers' respose was "I don't know how they're doing that at all".
Even champions need to learn things, or invent them.