MotoGP champ to be crowned

By Staff Writer
October 6, 2006

It has been an exciting and different season in the world of motorcycle racing, particularly in MotoGP, which has two races left before it wraps up for the season and the world champion is crowned. Since 2000, Valentino Rossi has been the MotoGP world champion, and previously as the 125 and 250 class world champion before making the switch to the premier class.

The season kicked off Sunday, March 26 in Spain and surprisingly, Italian Camel Yahama racer Rossi, who usually earns a podium finish every race, came in at a surprisingly low 13th place. The opening race winner was Italian Marlboro Ducati rider Loris Capirossi. The next race at Qatar saw Rossi come in with a first place finish, much to his fans’ delight.

Usually a top finisher, Rossi’s results this season have been very mixed, with only a handful of actual first place wins. He came in at the top of the podium only in Italy, Spain, Qatar, Germany and Malaysia. The rest of his results are lackluster at best and he did not even finish the races in China, France or the United States. One of those non-finishes was due to mechanical problems with his motorcycle.Lets hope that he picks it up in the last two races in Portugal and Spain. He was fifth in the points lead with 2,474 points, and American Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden was in first position with 2,949 points. But, the Sept. 27 race at Motegi in Japan, Rossi moved up to second in the points lead with Hayden being bumped to fifth. Loris Capirossi is currently first.

It is difficult to stay on top forever, but with Rossi’s young age, everyone thought that he was unbeatable, or so his fans would like to think. Other supporters of different teams and riders cannot wait for him to leave MotoGP and move on.

It was rumored that the 2006 season would be his last when he was seen test driving Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F1 car; but, he re-signed for the 2007 season with Camel Yamaha.

The rules have been changed for next season to lower the engine size of the GP bikes for safety. The fact that the tracks they race on are not originally designed for bikes with as much power as they’re putting out today.

Race officials decided that the speed the bikes were reaching with their 990 cubic centimeter motors were too great. Capirossi set a speed record on a bike in 2004 when he was testing his Ducati Desmosedici GP4 and was clocked at 215 mph. A decision was made to change the weight limits of the bikes and restrict the maximum engine size to 800cc.

Grand prix motorcycles are not available to the general public at all, and even smaller GP teams have to pay at least a million dollars just to get a year-old GP bike to use for a season and then return to the manufacturer. It is a class for companies to basically show off and test all of the latest technology they are developing within the rules of grand prix motorcycle racing. The good part, though, is that over time, the technology trickles down to the production motorcycles that anyone can buy. Riders can essentially purchase bikes that, 10 years ago, were on the cutting edge of race technology.

It is going to be exciting to see who can blast through the pack and win the 2006 MotoGP world championship. With two races left, every team is going to be taking part in some cutthroat racing. It is now down to Capirossi, Rossi and Hayden, so the fans will have to wait and see who comes out on top this season.

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