The MotoGP season is about to start, and Valentino Rossi is expected to shine again. However, with Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Nicky Hayden, and Jorge Lorenzo dragging along behind him, the championship will be even harder to win this year.
So is the Italian set for an eighth MotoGP title? Well, nobody would bet against him. Despite 2006 and 2007, the Doctor has been the king of this sport, although regularly starting slowly. In the first couple of rounds Rossi finishes inside the top 10, but every year he makes a dramatic run for the finish and comes up with nail-biting manoeuvres to outwit his fellow riders.
So do the others stand a chance?
Well, 2007 champion Casey Stoner will have a say in the matter. The Aussie secured more pole positions than anybody else last year, but he gifted Rossi to many wins last year. Stoner will compete, but he will have to be better to take the title.
Pedrosa: Well, the Spaniard is mister consistent, and last year he showed that he can challenge for the title by finishing third in the championship. Whether he can keep his cool in pressure situations though is the key to his success.
Nicky Hayden's switch to Ducati could revitalise his career and prove that his win in 2006 was not just a one-off. Being out of the Repsol Honda team will do him a lot of favours, and he will hope that there is no repeat of last year, as he ran out of fuel in Assen on the last lap to gift Colin Edwards a podium finish.
Lorenzo, Rossi's teammate, should come back better than ever this season. After a couple of bad ankle injuries last year, the young rider was unable to continue his fantastic form at the start of the year. He though, like Hayden, will probably just fall short of the mark.
MotoGP starts in April—prepare yourself for some breathtaking motor racing.
My prediction for the 2009 season:
1. Valentino Rossi
2. Casey Stoner
3. Dani Pedrosa
4. Nicky Hayden
5. Jorge Lorenzo
6. Colin Edwards
7. Andrea Dovizioso
8. James Toseland