Valentino Rossi’s 2010 MotoGP rivals

Rossi’s Reign

For hardcore fans of MotoGP the off-season is a trying time. With no racing to watch we eagerly search the websites and magazines for updates on who is riding for who and the make-up of the new season’s grid.

With regard to the premiere 2010 MotoGP class, there is definitely going to be some shake-ups, although look to the fab four (Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo) to be battling it out at the front. Each rider comes into the 2010 MotoGP season at their healthiest and on familiar motorcycles with familiar crews.

Both Rossi and Lorenzo-on the Fiat Yamaha squad-are entering their final contract years and rumors are rampant about where they will end up for 2011, as Rossi has stated publicly that Yamaha may have to make a decision; him or me. All of this is feeding the fire for a showdown between the two.

That said, there are number of potential up-setters in the mix, with the MotoGP grid packed with talent, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years. Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden are riding high after finishing out last season with some inspired rides.

The real unknowns are the 250cc pilots that have been drafted onto the big-bore 800cc motorcycles. We’re talking 2009 250cc World Champion, Hiroshi Aoyama, 2008 250cc World Champion, Marco Simoncelli (perhaps the best candidate to compete with Rossi’s charisma) and the very capable Alvaro Bautista. Last, but certainly not least-given his humbling decimation of the 2009 World Superbike (SBK) Championship in just his rookie year-American Ben Spies.

Simoncelli, Baustista and Aoyama may have teething troubles acclimating to the 800cc monsters from the comparatively docile 250cc machines. However, they know the drill. All have multiple years traveling the MotoGP circuit and intimate knowledge of the racing circuits.

Spies, although a proven MotoGP wild card, will be playing catch-up on learning the circuits in the reduced practice and qualifying schedules that MotoGP is adhering to for 2010.

All in all, 2010 is shaping up as a banner year for MotoGP. We have three Americans in the mix, a horde of young guns out to dethrone the legend, along with the usual suspects. More so than in past the 2010 MotoGP season is difficult to predict. But at the end of the day I wouldn’t wage too heavily against the reigning 9-time world champion, Valentino Rossi.