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Lower cylinder classes on double duty in Qatar

Lower cylinder classes on double duty in Qatar

Final preseason test and opening round of 2009 take place this week.

The lower cylinder categories of the MotoGP World Championship are on double duty in Qatar this week, concluding their preseason testing just days before the opening race of the 2009 season. Virtually the entire 250cc and 125cc grids are already in the Arab emirate for two nights of fine-tuning.

One rider is, however, notable by his absence. 250cc World Champion Marco Simoncelli is facing a battle for fitness after suffering a fractured scaphoid at the most inopportune of moments. The injury –picked up when training motocross- required the insertion of a screw, leaving the Metis Gilera rider with a tough start to his title defence. He had been the fastest rider in testing at the Circuito de Jerez in the week prior to his crash.

Simoncelli’s late setback contrasts with the recuperation of rival Álvaro Bautista, who is in the final stages of recovery from a fractured collarbone. The Spaniard has returned to action with no signs of taking things easy, and looks to begin his quest to go one better than his 2008 runner-up spot in the series on the right foot.

Another favourite ready to ride through the pain is Héctor Barberá, recently re-injured in preseason. Pepe World’s Spanish star incurred a knock to his knee in Jerez, but the blow pales in comparison to the back injury that forced him to spend 5 months on the sidelines.

Favourites making their debut in the class at the Qatari race are Mike di Meglio and Gabor Talmacsi, the two most recent 125cc World Champions. Add last year’s racewinner Mattia Pasini into the equation, and the first race of the season looks to be a wide open affair.

The 125cc category has seen a preseason on-track battle taking place between Bancaja Aspar teammates Julián Simón and Bradley Smith, the standout riders of the past few months. Simón took the advantage at the penultimate preseason test in Jerez, but Qatar is one of Smith’s favoured tracks and the scene of his first Grand Prix pole position.

The duo’s teammate Sergio Gadea is the winner of the only 125cc night race to date, and as such features amongst the favourites for victory in a list that also includes 2009 World Championship runner-up Simone Corsi, German star Stefan Bradl and the dangerous Bainet Derbi duo of Joan Olivé & Pol Espargaró.

Testing in Qatar begins on Monday night and extends to Tuesday night, whilst the opening practice session for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar takes place on Friday, April 10th.


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