Scott Jones, Ducati Corse
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The 2010 season opener at Qatar also witnessed the birth of a brand new class. The Moto2 bikes - a prototype chassis housing a standardized Honda engine - had generated a lot of interest during the off season, not least because the class threw up a number of new and unknown names in the tests. One of the favorites to emerge from the preseason was American rider Kenny Noyes, riding a PromoHarris Moto2 bike for the Jack&Jones Banderas Racing team.
After finishing consistently in the top three during testing, Noyes had a difficult qualifying session, ending up just 30th on the grid. A tactical error, and being caught off guard by the adrenaline-fueled chaos of the last 10 minutes of qualifying saw Noyes 1.8 seconds off polesitter Toni Elias, at a track he had only seen before testing road bikes for a Spanish magazine. We caught up with Noyes a couple of hours before the Moto2 race was due to start at Qatar.
MotoMatters.com: Nervous yet?
Kenny Noyes: Not now! [Laughs] I was real nervous before the first session, especially the first free session, going out there the first time in the World Championship, and learning the track. It's a lot to take in at once. But I kinda settled down as the weekend has gone on, and now I'm starting pretty far back, but we can only really go forward from here.
We have made no secret of our scepticism about MotoGP's season opening night race at Qatar. It delays the start of the season and is more about the spectacle of the lighting than the actual racing. But even we have to admit it produces some great side-effects. Here's our current favorite: Valentino Rossi during qualifying, trail-braking into a turn, his carbon-fiber disks lit up cherry red, as captured by MotoMatters.com's star photographer Scott Jones