MotoGP returns this weekend in the blistering sunshine of Qatar. It was last November that Marc Marquez became the youngest ever World Champion at the end of a scintillating season, and if pre-season testing is anything to go by, this season looks to be just as competitive as the last.
It has been a summer of change in the sport with ‘Factory’ and ‘Open’ machines being introduced. the ‘Factory’ option restricts the bike to 20 litres of fuel and the use of only five engines throughout the year, whereas the ‘Open’ option gives teams 24 litres of fuel and the luxury of 12 engines at their disposal.
Two of the riders on the ‘Factory’ machines, Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, have both proved their Championship credentials once again after registering the fastest times in the final testing session in Sepang. Another rider hoping to go one better than last year will be Jorge Lorenzo. The two time Champion will be eager to set the record straight after missing out to Marc Marquez in the final race of the season in 2013.
Marquez himself is touch and go for the maiden 2014 Grand Prix after sustaining a broken leg in a dirt-track training session in late February, but is hoping to be fighting fit and ready to defend his title. Meanwhile, many drivers have changed allegiances since Valencia last year, the most high profile of which is Nicky Hayden moving to Aspar racing from Ducati, whilst Cal Crutchlow takes his place after moving from Yamaha.
Crutchlow will lead the British challenge for Championship glory in 2014 as he did last year, and being one of the ‘Open’ entries he will have the added engines to his advantage. Bradley Smith is among the other British contenders and will be looking for an improvement on his tenth place finish last year at Yamaha. Scott Redding also makes the step up from Moto2 and Northern Irishman Michael Laverty will be hoping for points for PBM.
Another scintillating season is in store and, if it is even half as exciting as last year, we are in for a real treat.
Image courtesy of gpmotoracer.net