Life-long aspirations and intense preparations will once again be put to the test, as racers are gearing-up for the premier MotoGP class. Once again only 17 riders will be will privileged and talented enough to compete for the world title in the top category of motorcycle road racing.
Sophomore Ben Spies (11) steps-up from the Yamaha Tech3 team to share a garage with MotoGP champ Jorge Lorenzo (1) as the pair attempt to defend the Fiat Yamaha team’s 2010 triple crown (rider, manufacture and team) championship honors.
The Ducati Corse team returns in force with a new Italian rider who needs no introduction, Valentino Rossi (46), alongside returning Kentucky-native Nicky Hayden (69).
The Factory Repsol Honda team returns with three riders defending the colors of the energy giant: Dani Pedrosa (26), Andrea Dovizioso (4) and Casey Stoner (27) in his first ever season with the orange and black team.
The most interesting novelty in the official 2011 MotoGP rider list is the return of Toni Elias (24) to the top category after he won the inaugural Moto2 Championship in 2010.
Elias straddles the RC212V ride vacated by Randy De Puniet (14) on the Honda LCR team, as the Frenchman moves over to the Pramac Ducati Racing Team.
MotoGP will debut two rookies in 2011. Yamaha World Superbike rider Cal Crutchlow (35) climbs into the seat Spies vacated on the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, while Karen Abraham (17) will do the pay-per-ride on the Cardion AB Motoracing team.
The slowing and aging Loris Capirossi (65) exits the Rizla Suzuki team looking for better luck in 2011 as he joins De Puniet and his playboy girlfriend Lauren Vickers on the Pramac Ducati Team.
Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama (7) moves over to the San Carlo Honda Gresini team riding the RC212V as Marco Melandri (33) steps-down to ride the Yamaha R1 in World Superbike for 2011.
Two of last year’s MotoGP rookies, Alvaro Bautista (19) on the GSV-R and Marco Simoncelli (58) on the RC212V will stay with their respective MotoGP teams: Rizla Suzuki and San Carlo Honda Gresini.
American, or should I say Texan, Colin Edwards (5) will once again ride for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team while Hector Barbera (8) will also stay put on the Aspar Ducati Team.
Honda will roll six RC212V race bikes onto the grid, alongside Ducati who will match with six GP11 motorcycles, Yamaha will start four M1 machines, and Suzuki will field just one GSV-R. No other motorcycle manufacturers will be represented.
2011 MotoGP: Numbers, Riders & Teams
1 – Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
4 – Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda Team
5 – Colin Edwards, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
7 – Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini
8 – Hector Barbera, Aspar Ducati Team
11 – Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing
14 – Randy De Puniet, Pramac Ducati Racing Team
17 – Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing – Ducati
19 – Alvaro Bautista, Rizla Suzuki
24 – Toni Elias, LCR Honda
26 – Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
27 – Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda Team
35 – Carl Crutchlow, Monster Yamaha Tech3
46 – Valentino Rossi, Factory Ducati Team
58 – Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini
65 – Loris Capirossi, Pramac Ducati Racing Team
69 – Nicky Hayden, Factory Ducati Team
Spain is once again the country with the most riders, five in total, followed by Italy with four, and America with three. The 17 riders on the 2011 provisional MotoGP list are from a total of eight countries. In the end, there will be only one winner.