MotoGP makes a long-awaited return to action on Thursday, with the 17 official entries all taking to the track at Sepang. For the veterans, it marks the first time they will have ridden a MotoGP bike in nearly three months, their last outing being at the Valencia post-race tests in November last year. Even the rookies, who got extra tests at the end of 2009, have not been been on track since late December, with Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama the most recent to test here at Sepang before Christmas.
Hiroshi Aoyama and Marco Simoncelli finished the final day of testing at Sepang on Wednesday, bringing the cycle of extra MotoGP rookie tests to an end. Once again, it was Hiroshi Aoyama who was fastest of the rooking pairing, beating Marco Simonelli's time by a significant margin.
The rain continues to dog the last of the rookie tests, another downpour at Sepang disrupting practice for Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama as they acclimatize to their Honda RC212Vs. Fortunately, the rain paid only a brief visit in the afternoon, allowing Simoncelli to rack up 44 laps and Aoyama to accumulate 43 laps of the Malaysian circuit.
Though the bumper crop of rookies due to enter MotoGP next season were given an extra session of testing, the last two to make use of that opportunity got off to a very damp start. Marco Simoncelli and reigning 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama arrived at Sepang to be greeted by a torrential downpour, delaying the start of the first day of testing until around noon local time.
After winning his 7th MotoGP World Championship, his 9th world title in total, and his 4th for Yamaha, Yamaha's bosses were naturally effusive in their praise for Valentino Rossi. At a press conference after the race, which featured Yamaha Racing's Managing Director Lin Jarvis alongside Yamaha's MotoGP project leader Masao Furusawa, the pair heaped praise on the Italian.
The 2010 MotoGP season is set to be a bumper year for rookies, with a grand total of 6 newcomers entering the class. Hiroshi Aoyama, Hector Barbera, Alvaro Bautista, Aleix Espargaro and Marco Simoncelli are all moving up to MotoGP from the 250cc class, while Ben Spies is parachuting in from World Superbikes. The influx of new blood into the class - including some of the most eagerly-awaited names for a couple of years - should add an extra level of excitement to MotoGP, with the new riders rated very highly indeed.
|1||ROSSI Valentino||ITA||286||2009 World Champion|
Results of the rain-soaked MotoGP race at Sepang:
Casey Stoner put in a completely dominant display at Sepang to take a convincing victory. The Australian took half a lap to get past Dani Pedrosa and take the lead, and the Ducati rider never looked back. Stoner had a lead of 6 seconds by the end of lap 3, and went on to win by nearly 15 seconds, after backing off a little in the latter part of the race.
A downpour between the end of the 250cc race and the start of the MotoGP race has caused the race to be delayed. The rain has now ceased and the riders are heading out onto the track for the start, which has been delayed by 35 minutes. The track at Sepang dries very quickly in the tropical heat, but we are set for a flag-to-flag race at Sepang.