If 2008 went into the history books as a rain-hit motorcycle racing season, 2009 looks like starting off in much the same vein. The full World Superbike paddock is gathering at Portugal's magnificent Portimao circuit, ready for a three-day test, but so far, it looks like they could be disappointed. A number of Formula 1 teams have been testing there for the past few days, and not much testing has been done, as torrential rain, mist and even hail dogged the sessions.
The weather forecast for the next three days only looks a little better. Rain is predicted for Friday and Sunday, with Saturday likely to be the only day with weather good enough to produce meaningful results.
Which is a terrible shame. For all seven factory teams are present in Portugal, and the first chance to see where the complex combinations of new and old riders aboard new and old bikes all stand relative to one another. But there is one minor upside to the dismal weather: conditions during the final round of the 2008 World Superbike championship at Portimao were similarly difficult, and so there is a good chance that the times from qualifying there may prove a decent guide to just how fast the new teams all are.
Both World Superbike and World Supersport classes are due to be testing this weekend, but as well as testing, the riders will also be trying out the new "knock out qualifying" superpole format. At the end of each day, the fastest 20 riders will try out the new qualifying format, to allow the InFront Motor Sports group - the renamed FGSport organization - to test how that format will be run.
But whatever the weather, the Portimao test marks a bright day in the life of motorcycle racing fans around the world. Racing motorcycles are about to take to the track in anger once again, and that means that competitive racing is not far behind.