Readying for MotoGP 2011

Published on January 28th, 2011

It’s been a while, and 2010 left us with some remarkable news, and unexpected endings. One of them have got to be Valentino “The Doctor” Rossi leaving Fiat Yamaha after a journey of total domination with the M1. Jorge Lorenzo was said to be the next king and to be riding together with Ben Spies from Yamaha Racing.

Casey Stoner joins Repsol Honda, together with Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso. There have been changes in the line-up, and we can expect either improved or dropped performance form the world’s top riders. Changes can be good, but the waiting game and the anticipation is almost nail-biting.

The testing ban will be lifted off on Jan 31, which means testing season for MotoGP will start soon. This Feb 1,2 and 3, testing will begin for the 2011 MotoGP. Rossi, Stoner and Elias will be on their new bikes, which will be in full livery at the test.

“MotoGP will be back and the actions start here in Sepang. And, the new season looks set to be the most exciting ever,” declared Datuk Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali, the Chief Executive Officer of Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

“All are potential world champion this year and very capable of challenging the current world champion, Jorge Lorenzo,” said Razlan, adding that the MotoGP riders last tested their bikes in November in Valencia after the final race of 2010.

MotoGP will begin on March 20 in Qatar GP and will come to SIC for the penultimate round on October 21 to 23. There’ll be a special early bird ticket promotion for the 2011 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, so be on the lookout for that.

Razlan said: “These early bird tickets start from RM40. For more details, fans can log on to our official or call our ticket hotline at +603-8778 2200.

“For the test, we will be opening the Main Grandstand for fans to come and see their idols in action. There will no charge and on top of that, fans could take advantage of their trip to buy the discounted tickets. Fans can also get hold of the exclusive Rossi’s ‘Bye Bye Baby’ T-shirts at our merchandise shop.

2010 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix

“But, above all that that, fans could also indulge in that unique experience of catching these new bikes in action for the first time. It’s going to be a fantastic event,” said Razlan, a die-hard MotoGP fan and a former racer himself at the local circuit.

While MotoGP riders would have two three-day sessions in Sepang – the other from February 22 to 24, riders in Moto2 and 125cc would be testing in Spain; with the first of a three-test session to be held in Valencia from February 10 to 12.

There had been plenty of hype for the MotoGP world championship new season especially on nine-time world champion Rossi, who underwent surgery last November on his troubled right shoulder, which the rider cited as a key reason that affected his performance in 2010.

Riding for the Ducati Team for the first time but continuing with his legendary #46 competition number, Rossi would be partnering 2006 champion Nicky Hayden, who would be racing with #69.

2010 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix

As he recuperates from the surgery, Rossi had recently announced in an interview that he will definitely not be 100 per cent fit for the start of the season in Qatar on March 20 and he also played down his chances of an eighth MotoGP title in his first season with his new Ducati team.

“I count on being in decent form for the first race of the season in Qatar on March 20 and then I’ll be 100 per cent in April. I hoped to feel a bit better, there is a lot of work to do but it’s a great challenge to get in shape for the February tests. I hope I’ll be okay on the bike. It will be a race against time. The situation with the shoulder is more serious than we expected,” Rossi said in a recent interview.

Riding along side Rossi for a second stint after their first partnership with Repsol Honda in 2003, Hayden, who would be starting his third year with Ducati, said that he was looking forward to work with Rossi and the team.

“We know we have a good bike. We’ve made a couple of little tweaks for next year by adding some staff and a few engineers to help me. I have a strong team around me. I know being team-mates with Rossi won’t be easy, but I really don’t get too caught up in that. I focus on my job, and that’s why I think it’ll work with us.

2010 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix

“I’m looking forward to having Valentino’s information and feedback. He’s been around a long time and has a lot of experience. I think it’ll be fun. I know our team; the motivation is really high, and the excitement with the fans in Italy is high as well,” Hayden said in an interview.

Repsol Honda returned to their old days a three-pronged attack for glory during the days of Mick Doohan, Alex Criville and Tadayuki Okada. This time featuring a trio of world champions – the 2007 world champion Stoner, two-time 250cc champion and 2003 world 125cc champion Pedrosa and Dovizioso, who won the 125cc world title in 2004.

At the last test in Valencia, Stoner was exceptionally fast despite riding the Repsol Honda machine for the first time; and Lorenzo was quick to point out that the Australian would be one of his close challengers for the 2011 title.

2010 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix

In an interview during his recent visit to Jakarta, Lorenzo said that he believed the instant pace of the new factory Honda rider during November’s Valencia test had to be taken very seriously and that he placed Stoner above the likes of Rossi and last year’s runner-up Dani Pedrosa.

“I keep saying Casey is my closest competitor because we are the fastest now. Seeing from the Valencia test result and how our best times were so close,” said Lorenzo, who was separated with Stoner by just 0.113 seconds.

Dominant in title-winning 2010 season and fastest at the Valencia tests, Lorenzo noted that it was going to be a tough year in 2011; but stressed that he was in pressure to match Rossi’s  record of multiple world championships for Yamaha.

”I’m happy for what I get now. If I don’t win more titles, I’m still happy. If I win more, I will be happier. This year we will have a different bike. I have new team-mate [Ben Spies] who is young and energetic. The competition will be more interesting,” added Lorenzo, who will be ditching his #99 to race on #1.

Words: Syawal Ahmad & SIC  Pix: Syawal Ahmad & SIC

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