Pure undiluted adrenaline lays ahead
Posted on Feb 02, 2015 by Nick Harris
The wait is over – that long awaited start of the 2015 MotoGP™ season has arrived. The new season officially kicks off on Wednesday (February 4) with the vital first MotoGP™ test of the season at Sepang in Malaysia. The three day test round the 3.444 mile circuit in the heat and humidity of Malaysia is followed by another three day test at Sepang beginning on Monday February 23rd. Both tests will be followed by a one day test with Michelin tyres who replace Bridgestone as the official tyre supplier in 2016.
The prospects for the new season are mouthwatering after such a successful 2014 both on and off the track. On the track the quality and closeness of the racing has rarely been matched in the 66 year history of the sport in all three classes. Off the track the size of the spectator attendance figures, television audiences and social media interest tells its own story. Roll on 2015 - starting on Wednesday.
MotoGP™ FACTS AND FIGURES 2014
Average number weekend spectators 18 grands prix – 137,423
Highest attendance – Czech Republic (Brno) 240,695
138,000 weekend attendance Hertz British Grand Prix at Silverstone
207 countries received LIVE TV Signal
291 million homes were reached via cable or satellite TV Networks
motogp.com received almost 92 million visits
motogp.com was reached by 29 million unique users
Official MotoGP Facebook: 8.1 million followers
Official MotoGP Twitter: 1.2million followers
Official YouTube Channel: 650,000 subscribers
Official Instagram Account: 588,000 followers
Google+: 675,000 followers
THE FIGHTING FOUR – OUT TO RESTORE BRITISH PRIDE
Andy Murray did it in tennis and now the time has come to restore some British pride in MotoGP after 34 years in the wilderness. Four British riders take on the challenge of becoming the first British winner of a premier class motorcycle grand prix since Barry Sheene won the 1981 Swedish Grand Prix in Anderstorp.
The prospects of hearing the National Anthem once again at a rostrum ceremony after such a long wait are good.
Former team-mates Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow both grabbed podium finishes last year. Scott Redding faces his second MotoGP season on much improved Honda machinery while Eugene Laverty makes his MotoGP debut after great success in the World Superbike and World Supersport Championships.
Twenty–four year old Bradley Smith starts a crucial third season in MotoGP. Last season the Andorra - based Oxfordshire rider took his very first MotoGP podium when he finished third in the Tissot Australian Grand Prix riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha.
Isle of Man - based Midlander Cal Crutchlow swaps teams for the second year in succession. Last year he finished third in the Movistar Grand Prix of Aragon riding the factory Ducati on his debut season for the team. This year he’s switched to Honda power with the CWM LCR team and should be pushing for more podium finishes and even that historic first win.
Gloucestershire - based Scott Redding is still the youngest ever grand prix winner and he starts his second MotoGP season full of confidence in a brand new team. He renews his successful partnership with the Marc VDS team which brought him second place in the 2013 Moto2™ World Championship. The Belgian-based outfit joins forces with Estella Galicia with factory support from Honda to form a very strong team on their MotoGP debut.
Twenty–eight year old Ulsterman Eugene Laverty makes a long awaited MotoGP debut when he joins former World Champion Nicky Hayden in the Drive M7 Aspar Honda team. He has twice been runner–up in the World Supersport Championship and once in the World Superbike Championship and will ride the Open class Honda for the Spanish -based team.
Moto2™ AND Moto3™ BRITS KICK OFF
The Moto3 and Moto2 teams kick off their season six days later with a three day test at Valencia in Spain commencing on Tuesday 10 February.
Two British riders do battle with the likes of World Champions Alex Marquez and Tito Rabat in the Moto2 class with two more in the highly competitive Moto3 championship.
Lincolnshire – based Sam Lowes completed a tough but ultimately successful first Moto2 season last year after winning the World Supersport Championship in 2013. He continues to ride for the Italian – based Speed-Up team.
Londoner Gino Rea is a fighter and has been rewarded with another full Moto2 season. Despite injuries and financial restraints he returns on the AGT Rea Racing Kalex, always praying for rain because of his ability in the wet.
Wiltshire – based Danny Kent is a Moto3 grands prix winner and returned to the class last year. He showed glimpses of the form that brought him two grands prix wins and this year should push for more wins or even the title on his debut season for the Kiefer Racing Honda team.
Scotsman John McPhee had such an encouraging season last year riding for the Saxoprint – RTG Honda team. He was often fighting for the lead and came so close to many podium finishes in the most competitive class of them all. He remains with the team with the continuing support of the Racing Steps Foundation and a grand prix win is certainly not beyond his considerable talent.
MARQUEZ CHASES HATRICK
Twenty–one year old Spaniard Marc Marquez arrives in Sepang with a new Repsol Honda to begin the campaign to capture a hatrick of MotoGP championships. He has re-written the history books since arriving in the premier class as the Moto2 World Champion just two years ago. He even missed the second Sepang test last season after breaking his leg in a dirt bike training accident but went on to win the opening ten grands prix in the defence of his title.
His main threat will come from the Movistar Yamaha duo of World Champions Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Both won grands prix last year. Rossi, written off by many, was amazing, finishing second in the championship at the tender age of thirty-five. Lorenzo made a dreadful start to the season but showed his class towards the end to finish third in front of Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Those four will be right at it from the word go but there is plenty more to look forward to. Ducati after encouraging season, return, unfortunately without their 2015 machine at this first test, with Italian Andrea’s Dovizioso and Iannone on board. Crutchlow switches to Honda with Stefan Bradl joining NGM Forward Racing Yamaha. Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith will be chasing podiums right from the start.
Suzuki and Aprilia make a welcome return to the fray while Australian Moto3 sensation Jack Miller jumps straight into the big time. New technical regulations have to be adhered to at different stages throughout the season.
One rider missing the first test is Columbian Yonny Hernandez who damaged his shoulder in a dirt bike training crash.
Not all the questions will be answered in Sepang but it will be a start.