MotoGP 2011: The new season
The 2010 campaign is still fresh in the memory but already the focus has turned to 2011. With the first Official Test in preparation for the new season coming immediately after the final round of the year in Valencia back in November, the excitement at the final 800cc season before the introduction of a 1000c engine capacity limit in 2012 is merely adding to the anticipation that the 2011 season will be one to savour.
Looking at the leading contenders for the 2011 MotoGP title the defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo will be at the forefront, as he aims to underline his status as the new dominant force. Having been so consistent in 2010 and finishing 16 of the 18 rounds on the podium on his M1, the factory Yamaha rider displayed a level of maturity that was vastly improved in comparison to his previous premier class campaigns.
As Lorenzo opts for continuity with Yamaha two of his chief rivals ride with new teams in 2011. Casey Stoner becomes a factory HRC rider and his display in the Valencia Test hinted at what was an immediate affinity with the RC212V, whilst Valentino Rossi has filled the Australian’s seat at Ducati as an all-Italian match-up adds to the fascinating grid. Rossi may not have enjoyed as comfortable an introduction to his new machine as Stoner did to the Honda, but such is the nine-time World Champion’s proven track record he can be expected to be pushing hard on the Desmosedici come March 20th at Losail.
Along with Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa will hope to benefit from the stability of remaining with the same set-up in 2011, and for the 2010 runner-up it will be his sixth season on the factory Honda team. Having been Lorenzo’s longest challenger until injury struck towards the end of 2010, Pedrosa’s sights will be firmly set on a first premier class title.
As much as the ‘top four’ continue to be spoken of in one bracket, the gap behind them is being closed all the time and there are a number of riders who will not only be confident of breaking into that elite, but who have proven they have the ability to run at the front.
Andrea Dovizioso enjoyed his best premier class season to date in 2010 and will remain on the factory Honda team, Ben Spies was Rookie of the Year and earned a factory Yamaha ride as well as serving notice of his talent in what was his debut year, and of course Nicky Hayden is a former World Champion who displayed a much-improved feeling on the Desmosedici in his second season with Ducati. Marco Simoncelli was also highly impressive in his first campaign in the MotoGP class, and in 2011 will ride a factory supported RC212V on the San Carlo Honda Gresini team.
Colin Edwards has a wealth of MotoGP experience and will continue with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team, whilst Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet are both seasoned campaigners and will compete to adjust quickest to the Desmosedici of the Pramac Racing team. Returning for their second seasons respectively and eager to make progress will be Héctor Barberá (Paginas Amarillas Aspar), Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini).
Great interest will also be stoked by the introduction of three new riders to the category. Toni Elías, winner of the inaugural Moto2 World Championship, makes his return to the premier class with LCR Honda whilst rookies Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) make the move from superbikes and Moto2 respectively.
The Official MotoGP Test at Sepang on February 1st will give further indications as to the progress of each individual rider and team, and you can follow the pre-season on motogp.com.