Ducati displayed its new 2014 livery in Germany preceding its parent company Audi's annual meeting in Eching (Munich this March. (Image source: motorsport.com)
Although the traditional season opener night race in Qatar has already passed us by, having taken place on March 23rd, with Marc Marquez being victorious, nevertheless those KURR-RAZY MOTO GP KATZ are back Stateside once again at the Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) - where your humble No Fenders scribe will be attending his second ever Big Boyz 'Scooter race after having made my MotoGP debut at Mother Speedway, aka Indianapolis Motor Speedway 'Wayback in 'Twenty-ten - having witnessed "ELBOZ" (Ben Spies) capture his maiden MotoGP Pole before ultimately finishing runner-up to Dani Pedrosa...
As I'm truly looking forward to visiting Ducati Island this year at COTA also - apparently it's only stop of the year...
And in what seems to be the latest fashion for motor racing series, with Formula 1's 'Mega rule changes already well documented, MotoGP isn't standing Pat itself, having further tweaked its top "B-I-G BOYZ (MotoGP) class structure, as gone is the CRT (Claiming Rule Teams) division, replaced by the new Open class, essentially a non "Works" category.
Last season there were three factory teams: Ducati, Honda and Yamaha, which now sees only the two Japanese manufacturer's staying true to this elite status, as Ducati has made the shock decision to migrate to the Open class instead - hardly surprising due to the current shellacking they've been incurring from Honda & Yamaha for many seasons now...
So just what is this Open class category Y'all ask? Well it's basically a sort of factory bike, Me Thinks... Since it runs a 1,000cc engine, yet Open class teams are allowed the use of 12-engines per season vs. Works teams only getting five. And whilst Open class manufacturers are allowed to develop their engines, the Works runners engines are effectively frozen for the entire season.
Open class runners are allowed 24-liters of petrol vs. Works teams only getting 20 per race, while Open class squads must use DORNA-spec ECU "Universal" (Standard) software vs. Works team's being allowed free reign to develop their ECU software.
So are Y'all as 'Cornfuzed over this as your humble No Fenders scribe is? As I'd tend to think that the Works 'Scooters have to be better than the Open class bikes, yet the latter seem to have more rules flexibility with engine development allowed plus running softer rear Bridgestone rubber.
As Honda & Yamaha have apparently voiced their concerns to the sport's governing body DORNA about the "less expensive" Open class Scooters being too competitive - with rumors of an Open-2 class category being considered...
Taking another page out of Formula One's playbook, I've just read that this year Bridgestone will introduce colour coded tyres, with green, black and red sidewall striping allowing fans to distinguish which selection of tyres the riders are using, a la F1's four compounds, i.e.; Super Soft, Soft, Medium and Hard.
Thus, there are just five top flight "Works" teams with eight competitors challenging for the 2014 MOTO GP Crown, including defending titlist Marc Marquez, who became the sport's first rookie world champion rider last year since some Dude named "The King," or 'KR, aka Kenny Roberts did so 'Wayback in 1978, en route to becoming the sport's youngest ever world champion at the tender age of 20!
Marquez's Repsol Honda team-mate once again will be Dani Pedrosa, whose probably tiring mightily of playing second fiddle to his team-mates; first Casey Stoner and now countryman Marquez.
MovieStar Yamaha once again features its tandem of ex-world champions, with George Lorenzo being buoyed by "The Doctor," aka Valentino Rossi for a second season since his return from the wilderness at Ducati.
Whilst the "secondary" factory teams which apparently are Non-Factory squads but running the "Works" bikes for Honda and Yamaha feature LCR with Stefan Bradl and Gresini Racing with Álvaro Bautista - both for Honda respectively, with the Monster Yamaha Tec 3 team of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaró, the reigning Moto2 champion nipping at Marquez, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi's heels...
And the Open class runners making up the bulk of the 23-rider field are simply way too many to cover, with a bunch of names I've never heard of, and thus I'll just point out the semi-obvious, with 'DOBY, nee Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow running their Desmosedici GP Duc's' in the Open class - with parent company owner Audi most likely expecting one of its rider's to win the class.
One of the sport's elders known as the Texas Tornado, aka Colin Edwards will drag his knees for NGM Mobile Forward Racing on its 'YamaHopper, (Yamaha) with "The Kentucky Kid" (Nicky Hayden) starting a new chapter in his motorcycle racing career by riding aboard Aspar Racing Team's Honda, after having been given his pink slip by Ducati.
Meanwhile, I wasn't able to spot my favourite rider's name, known as 'ELBOZ, I thought for sure that Ben Spies was competing this year? So imagine my surprise to learn that he'd reluctantly announced his retirement late last October at the age of 29!
As it appears that the relatively unknown Columbian Yonny Hernández has taken over Spies's seat at Pramac Racing, whom I know nothing about, but possibly worth watching.
Alas, while I'm bummed over Spies's retirement, and Y'all will probably think I'm just jumping on the Marquez Bandwagon, nevertheless the 'Kid definitely excited me last year and hence, I guess he'll become my new Numero Uno rider, unless someone else grabs my Attenzione!
Thus, who'll win the title this year? Will Marquez repeat? As he may be off to a somewhat slow start after having broken his leg during the Pre-season and not having ridden a motorcycle since Feb 6, while Pedrosa and Lorenzo will need to stay healthy in order to upset the 21yr old Spaniard...
Meanwhile I'm guessing that thee 'Doctor is a title Dark Horse? Who'd Uh-thunk I-T that Rossi would be a Dark Horse, eh? Whilst I'm not sure of what other sleepers are on the grid this year, as surely Stefan Bradl will run towards the front of the grid once again, while somebody else surely will pop-up upon our collective radar's, right?