The 2010 MotoGP season will come with the usual drama, theatrics and excitement that it brings every year. This season, along with the seasoned professionals, a number of newcomers will be making the grid as well. While they may have been stars in their category over the past season, they will all be entering the 800cc grid with little or no recognition as compared to the likes of Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and others who are already in the fray.
Being in the top category will mean that these youngsters, to the 800cc category i.e., will have to ride (most likely) substandard hand-me-downs and will have to try and establish a career at the top level while competing with stars in their star-studded machines. A closer look at these fledglings will give us a stronger idea of what is in store for them in 2010.
>Having made his debut in the world of motorcycle racing with Aspar, Barbera will be returning to the team at the biggest stage in the MotoGP world. Second at the 2009 250cc World Championships was his highest finish in the sport till date, but one that has come at the end of an extremely roller coaster career that began at the age of 15.
Barbera has had time on the prototype for the 800cc machine and he has, till now, looked comfortable on the Desmosedici GP9. However, riding a factory machine is completely different from a privateer outfit and that might prove to be the undoing of this promising young lad from Spain who might still, if his form persists, hold out in the 800cc catgory for years to come.
>25-years old and already the holder of 7 World Championship titles including a 125cc title, Alvaro Bautista has had it good. The second Spaniard on our panel of newbies, Bautista began his MotoGP career in 2003, although he did make a mid-season debut in 2002.
Despite slow starts in both the 125 and 250cc categories, Bautista managed to pull himself out of the rut and looked a serious contender until injuries and crashes put him out of contention. However, the youngster did manage to stay on a bike long enough to deserve a shot at the 800cc category and despite all the hype surrounding his presence, he is also one of the favourites to go down, quite literally too.
>Joining the San Carlo Honda Gresini team this season, Marco Simoncelli is probably one of the most exciting riders who will be entering the category in 2010. Since his debut in 2002, Simoncelli has been regarded as one of the most aggressive riders in the business. He moved up to the 250cc category in 2005 and in the last two seasons, has been one of the main men to watch.
After two seasons of 10th place finishes, Simoncelli found his groove in 2008, winning the title with an impressive performance that followed two DNFs in the first two races for the season. He was touted as the next best rider to enter the 800cc category in 2009 but the Italian decided to stay in the 250cc category to fight it out for the title. Despite 6 wins in 2009, he failed to defend his title although he did grab a lot of attention in an eventful season. It was a crash on the final day that led him to third place, losing out to Hiroshi Aoyama.
There is little doubt that Simoncelli will be one to look out for in the 2010 season and his style of riding is something that will make him standout of the crowd. Despite being quite good on the bike, a crashprone Simoncelli might just be another Jorge Lorenzo in the making, provided he can stay on the bike long enough to finish races.
>In the MotoGP world, the name Hiroshi Aoyama requires very little introduction. A debutant in the 125cc category in 2000, Aoyama participated mostly as a wildcard in his first four seasons, picking up two wins despite. Winning the Japanese 250cc title in 2003, Aoyama got a Honda bike for 2004 and he finished fourth in 2006, in the World Championships.
Getting boosted up to the 250cc category, Aoyama took KTM to their first ever World Championship race win but in 2007 and 2008, despite much being expected from the Japanese rider, he finished disappointingly low, in sixth and seventh. In 2009 though, things changed as he moved to Scot Racing and a Honda machine. Battling with Marco Simoncelli, Aoyama had a wonderful season with 4 wins and 3 other podium finishes, on the way to winning the 2009 250cc MotoGP World Championship title.
Aoyama has been eratic in the past but has always managed to prove his worth when handed a good bike with a strong team. Having already tested with the Interwetten Honda MotoGP team, Aoyama is all set to set the tracks ablaze on the RC212V, a bike that he is quite familiar with.
With the champion and the first three runner’s up coming into the 800cc category this year, 2010 will be actionpacked to say the least. While all eyes will continue to be on the battle between the big guns - Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa; rest assured that there will be much more to look forward to, and probably even a few surprise results, with the crop of riders coming into the category.