The 19-race circuit (http://www.motogp.com/en/calendar+circuits) revs up with the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar on March 23 and concludes November 9 at the Gran Premio Generali De La Comunitat Valencia.
The question on everyone’s mind is this: Can Spanish sensation Marc Marquez duplicate his remarkable season of a year ago which saw him become the first rookie in 35 years to win the series title. Representing Repsol Honda, Marquez posted six wins and amassed 334 points to slide past Yamaha Factory Racing’s stalwart Jorge Lorenzo by a mere four points.
Marques underwent off-season nasal surgery to repair a deviated septum, but that should be of little impact on the track. He’ll once again partner with countryman Dani Pedrosa, last year’s third-place finisher, on the Repsol Honda team.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Lorenzo will again join with 2013’s fourth-place finisher Valentino Rossi of Italy for Yamaha Factory Racing.
Worth watching will be the progress and impact of Moto2 champion Pol Espargaro of Spain and runner-up Scott Redding of England. Both have moved up to the premier series this season. In all, 24 riders will compete for the MotoGP title.
The departure of Espargaro and Redding leaves a wide-open contest with 35 entries at this juncture. Spaniard Esteve Rabat, Finnish rider Mika Kallio, and Switzerland’s Dominique Aergerter completed the Top Five in 2013 and will begin this year as the top riders to watch.
An intriguing addition to the circuit is U.S. rider Josh Herrin, representing Caterham Moto Racing. The 23-year-old Californian is the reigning AMA SuperBike champion. Herrin will partner with France’s Johann Zarco on the Caterham team.
Three of last year’s Top Five finishers – champion Maverick Vinales, third-place finisher Luis Salom, and fifth-place finisher Jonas Folger – have moved up to Moto2 this season. That leaves Spaniards Alex Rins (second) and Alex Marquez (fourth) as the top returnees among 33 competitors.
One has to wonder if Marquez the Younger can emulate the success of big brother while partnering with fellow Spaniard Rins on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team.
2013 SERIES STANDINGS
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, 334 points
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing, 330 points
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda, 300 points
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing, 237 points
Cal Crutchlow, Tech 3, 188 points
Pol Espargaro, Kalex, 265 points
Scott Redding, Kalex, 225 points
Esteve Rabat, Kalex, 215 points
Mika Kallio, Kalex, 187 points
Dominique Aegerter, Suter, 157 points
Maverick Vinales, black porn KTM, 323 points
Alex Rins, KTM, 311 points
Luis Salom, KTM, 302 points
Alex Marquez, KTM, 213 points
Jonas Folger, Kalex KTM, 183 points