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MotoGP majority move on to Phillip Island this week

MotoGP majority move on to Phillip Island this week

Having not ridden their 800cc machines for nearly two months before last week's test in Sepang, the MotoGP riders are satiating their appetite for four stroke riding and development in the run-up to the first race of the season in Qatar.

Having not ridden their 800cc machines for nearly two months before last week's test in Sepang, the MotoGP riders are satiating their appetite for four stroke riding and development in the run-up to the first race of the season in Qatar. For the majority of teams, this means travelling straight from Malaysia to Phillip Island in Australia, the scene of three days of intensive testing activity.

For Nicky Hayden, the fastest rider last week in Sepang, the trip ‘Down Under' will be one of the utmost importance. The American has been alternating his attentions between the pneumatic valve engine new to the Honda RC212V and the 2007 motor, aware that the Japanese factory are keen to progress with the former. He is going it alone in Australia for the Repsol Honda team, with fellow factory rider Dani Pedrosa sidelined for the immediate future after undergoing surgery on his right hand. Hayden will therefore be the man in charge of taking the 2008 machine forward, with every lap counting as he looks to develop a machine capable of regaining the MotoGP World title.

Hayden will also be the main Michelin rider on track, with Yamaha's factory rider Jorge Lorenzo skipping the visit to Australia in favour of a further test in Sepang next month. Satellite riders Colin Edwards and James Toseland will be there to support the Yamaha-Michelin cause. 2006 MotoGP World Champion Hayden will certainly be busy over the course of the three days, but has valuable control over his destiny in his hands.

Current title holder Casey Stoner will continue his quest for full fitness onboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP8, riding at his home track for the first time since the factory team's historic one-two last year. The 22 year-old has yet to undertake a full race simulation onboard the 2008 version of his title-winning bike, stricken by electrical and clutch problems in Sepang, and is still experiencing slight soreness in the left shoulder that he damaged on his first run with the machine in Jerez last year.

Alongside Stoner, team-mate Marco Melandri will be out to improve his times at the scene of his most recent race win, whilst the Alice Team satellite outfit will also be in attendance courtesy of riders Toni Elias and Sylvain Guintoli.

Honda's satellite teams, including timesheet topper from days one and two in Sepang Randy de Puniet, will be working with new chassis and more novelties for the coming season, although they are not scheduled to receive the 2008 engine upgrade until at least next month's official test in Jerez.

Kawasaki's latest engine, the ‘screamer' premiered by Tamaki Serizawa and Olivier Jacque in Malaysia, will only be appearing again ridden by the aforementioned test rider pairing. Regular riders John Hopkins and Anthony West will instead turn their attentions to a more orthodox version of the Ninja ZX-RR.

Rounding off the list of teams at Phillip Island is Rizla Suzuki, the only outfit to have previously tested their 2008 bike at the circuit. Local boy Chris Vermeulen and Italian veteran Loris Capirossi used the Australian circuit for their final test of last year, with pleasing times upon which they will be hoping to improve this week.

Five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi will miss this week's proceedings, joining his Michelin-shod Yamaha colleagues in Sepang from February 5th as he continues work on a pneumatic valve engine and his new Bridgestone rubber.

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Tags:
MotoGP, 2008

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