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MotoGP battle cry to sound at Catalunya

MotoGP battle cry to sound at Catalunya

MotoGP battle cry to sound at Catalunya

The roar of the world's most advanced 990cc four-stroke prototype motorcycles will once again be heard this weekend as MotoGP officially returns to action after the long winter break. Almost five months since the final round of Valentino Rossi's title-winning first season with Yamaha at Valencia, the full complement of teams and riders will be back in Spain as they launch the first stage of their quest to end the Italian's reign as World Champion at the MotoGP Official Test at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.

Whilst the majority of teams and factories have continued with their intense testing programmes all around the world during the winter, this is the first official date on the 2005 calendar and has become a traditionally competitive prologue to recent seasons. The introduction of the BMW Award - MotoGP Best Qualifier two years ago has added an extra edge to the test, with a televised 40-minute session offering a brand new 1 series model to the fastest rider.

The BMW Award - MotoGP Test has produced shock winners in both of its previous two editions, with Loris Capirossi driving away with the inaugural prize on an early version of the Ducati Desmosedici in 2003 and Rossi stunning his rivals in his first official appearance with Yamaha YZR-M1 last year. Rossi also won the overall BMW Award - MotoGP Best Qualifier of the Year, which is presented at the end of the season to the rider with the lowest accumulated qualifying times over the course of the World Championship, including their effort from the MotoGP Official Test.

Rossi's rivals will be keen to ensure that both his garage and trophy cabinet are not extended any further in 2005, starting with this weekend's test, which gets underway at 10.00h on Friday 18th March. The timed session is scheduled to start at 14.05h on Sunday afternoon.

Leading the quest to stop Rossi are his two greatest rivals from recent seasons, Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau. Both riders have finished runner-up to Rossi in the MotoGP World Championship and have full factory support from Honda in 2005 as they look to finally lift the title. HRC have brought out new versions of their RC211V machines during the winter tests and have enjoyed encouraging results, with Nicky Hayden also showing good form and Makoto Tamada adapting quickly to Michelin tyres after switching from Bridgestone.

Honda is not the only factory to have updated its machinery during preseason, with Yamaha, Ducati, Kawasaki and Suzuki all rolling out futuristic new prototypes in tests at circuits including Sepang, Phillip Island and Qatar. Meanwhile, Team Roberts took to the track at Valencia last week for a shakedown test with their new Proton motorcycle, powered by a KTM engine, whilst WCM expect their new Blata V6 machine to be ready for the first round of the season at Jerez on 10th April.

As well as witnessing all of the new machines on track together for the first time this year, fans at Catalunya will also get their first glimpse of several exciting new rider line-ups. Whilst Colin Edwards has replaced Carlos Checa as team-mate to Valentino Rossi at Yamaha, Checa has taken the place of Troy Bayliss at Ducati and Bayliss himself has switched to Honda. Marco Melandri will also be making his first official MotoGP appearance for Honda after switching from Yamaha's satellite team, which will this season be represented by Rubén Xaus and Toni Elías, contesting his rookie season in the premier-class alongside the former Ducati rider after moving up from 250cc.

MotoGP, 2005

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