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MotoGP starts 2008 preseason in Sepang

MotoGP starts 2008 preseason in Sepang

After a long winter break, the MotoGP teams and riders will be on-track for the first time this year at the Malaysian circuit of Sepang on Tuesday January 22nd, when testing resumes after the winter ban which has been in place since December 1st.

After a long winter break, the MotoGP teams and riders will be on-track for the first time this year at the Malaysian circuit of Sepang on Tuesday January 22nd, when testing resumes after the winter ban which has been in place since December 1st.

With MotoGP fans starved of on-track action for just over a month, it represents the first opportunity this year for the competitors to begin work on their 2008 prototypes. The teams have had a year's racing to learn about the 800cc motorcycles, and now is the chance to see who has made sufficient progress to be battling for the championship this coming season.

MotoGP World Championship winning team Ducati Marlboro and their World Champion Casey Stoner are surely the men to beat, and early this month the Australian revealed his new Desmosedici GP8 machine at the team's presentation in the Alps, alongside his new colleague Marco Melandri. Stoner has had the winter to recover from a shoulder injury, which occurred after a crash on the penultimate day of testing in 2007, at Jerez in November.

Another rider nursing injuries over the winter break was five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, who suffered a broken hand at the last round of the 2007 season at Valencia. Last Friday Rossi unveiled his new Yamaha M1, now shod with Bridgestone tyres, at team sponsor Fiat's home in Turin. Rossi is eager to claim back the title after two years without taking the crown, but will face a stern test from within his own garage. His new teammate is Jorge Lorenzo, Spain's two-time 250cc World Champion who will run on Michelin tyres in contrast to Rossi.

Last year's runner up in the championship, Dani Pedrosa will be present as he mounts his assault with Honda to claim the title, and he will be alongside his Repsol Honda teammate, 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden. The American is back having undergone shoulder surgery during the winter, and other riders returning at Sepang after going under the knife will be Ducati satellite "Alice Team" newcomer Toni Elias (rod removed from left femur) and Kawasaki's Anthony West (plate removed from left wrist).

Whilst all confirmed MotoGP teams should be present at the Sepang test, eight teams are provisionally listed for further rides as January moves into February, with a second three-day test taking place in Phillip Island, Australia, from January 30th. A favourite track for MotoGP testing, it was the circuit chosen by Suzuki for a private test at the end of November with home rider Chris Vermeulen and new addition Loris Capirossi.

The lower cylinder categories also kick into gear this month, and provide a plethora of interest as riders debut with their new teams and machines. With the publication of the FIM entry list at the end of 2007, the destination of some of the names hanging in the air have now been confirmed, and there will be some eager young riders revving their engines on January 24th at the Circuito de Jerez. An additional three days in Valencia round off the month for the 125cc and 250cc riders.

A multitude of activities are on the cards for the first month of 2008, and the latest information from all events can be found, of course, on official website motogp.com. A special package for video footage of the Sepang test, along with the Winter Premium Package, can be purchased here.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008

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