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Yonny Hernandez

yonny hernandez
Team
Pramac Racing
Rider no.
68
Bike
Ducati
CRT Origin
Colombia
DOB
25/07/1988
Weight
72kg
Height
183cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins

If at first you don’t succeed… Yonny nagged at those around him to give him an updated bike for 2015 and got his wish. The Colombian enters the new season with a works contract, which could extend over 2016 as well, and the chance to ride a better-spec Desmosedici. This will be his fourth MotoGP season; so far he has finished 17th, 18th and 15th, his best result last year coming in the second-last race at Sepang, where he finished seventh. In all Hernandez scored points on 12 occasions, enduring a lean streak from Assen to Brno in mid-year. Unfortunately his 2015 season got off on the wrong foot, or shoulder to be more precise: he dislocated the left one in a dirt-track training run and had to miss the first Sepang test. Catching up in more ways than one…

Aleix Espargaro

aleix espargaro
Team
Team Suzuki MotoGP
Rider no.
41
Bike
Suzuki
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
30/07/1989
Weight
69kg
Height
180cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins

Seventh place overall was a superb achievement in 2014 as Aleix continued his upward surge through the MotoGP ranks. Not only was he the top Open rider, he lived up to his own personal challenge of mixing it with the factory bikes. So well, in fact, that he claimed an outstanding podium at Aragon and fourth places in Qatar and Assen as he accumulated 126 points. There was also the small matter of a maiden pole position, secured at Assen as well, followed by promotion – if that’s the right word – to lead Suzuki’s return to the MotoGP fold. Instant reactions to his Suzuki testing: ‘I am too big for the bike!’ and ‘I feel more pressure, but I’m ready’. He ended the first Sepang test by saying he was in a good position now – and while he was talking about his physical presence on the bike, the world’s biggest FC Barcelona fan might also have been commenting on his buoyant mood going into a new season where he will partner compatriot Maverick Viñales.

Maverick Viñales

maveric vinales
Team
Team Suzuki MotoGP
Rider no.
25
Bike
Suzuki
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
12/01/1995
Weight
65kg
Height
170cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins

Dream start or difficult beginning? Maverick gets the opportunity to ride a factory bike alongside Aleix Espargaro as the Spaniards bring Suzuki back into the premier class after a three-year spell in the wilderness. At 20 years old, he comes with a world title under his belt in Moto3 and the experience of a single season in Moto2. Catalan 125cc champion in 2007 and 2008, ‘The Mac’ also raced in Germany before spending two years in his national 125 series: runner-up in 2009, he took the title the following year and entered Grand Prix racing in 2011 – the final year of the 125cc story. His maiden victory came in France as he finished his rookie year in third place. Same again in 2012: he was the first winner in the new Moto3 class and took four more victories to be third overall. But in 2013 he powered his way to the title even though he won less often. And those three years were spent on three different machines: Aprilia, Honda and KTM. It was a Pons Kalex that carried Maverick into Moto2 in 2014 when he won only his second race, added three more including Australia, and finished third behind the Marc VDS duo. And here he is in MotoGP at 20…

Bradley Smith

bradley smith
Team
Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Rider no.
38
Bike
Yamaha
CRT Origin
UK
DOB
28/11/1990
Weight
67kg
Height
179cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins

You can’t keep a good man down – or out of the saddle. Like several other MotoGP men, Bradley had a little bit of a mishap while he was doing some dirt-bike training and turned his left ankle, doing some ligament damage. Trouble is, it happened just before the first Sepang test and meant the 24-year-old Oxford rider couldn’t give it his all. Still, Smith managed to record a personal best time around the Malaysian track and finished the test in eighth place overall, with a race pace in simulations that put him close to the big four. It’s year three with the French-run Tech 3 squad for Smith and after what he calls ‘two great learning years’ he feels it’s time to build on that foundation and be the best satellite rider out there in 2015. Who will forget his delight when he came round at Phillip Island on his slow-down lap, realised there were only two riders ahead of him and he had achieved his first MotoGP podium? He’s been 10th, then eighth last year – one behind new teammate Pol Espargaro – and will be out to keep that progression going.

Valentino Rossi

valentino rossi
Team
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
Rider no.
46
Bike
Yamaha
CRT Origin
Italy
DOB
16/02/1979
Weight
65kg
Height
182cm
Grand Prix Victories
82
Australian Grand Prix Victories
6
World Championship Wins
7

What more is there to say or write about this man? In 2014 Valentino scored the 81st and 82nd victories of his legendary MotoGP career; he finished the season as runner-up, his highest placing since he last won the title in 2009. He was galvanised by the arrival of a new crew chief, Silvano Galbusera from the Superbike world. A season that might have been his last if results had not gone his way turned into a stunning campaign with just one non-scoring round in Aragon. That misfortune interrupted a second half of the year which saw Rossi on the podium eight times. His delight at winning, first of all on his home track at Misano and then at his second home right here in Australia, was boundless. Vale turned 36 in February but as his crew chief says, he is only old on paper. ‘I like trying to improve, that’s part of the game,’ he says, and that’s the mark of a champion. If he improves again in 2015 maybe that 10th title is still possible.

Scott Redding

scott redding
Team
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Rider no.
45
Bike
Honda
CRT Origin
UK
DOB
4/01/1993
Weight
78kg
Height
185cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins

Will the transition from an Open-class RCV1000R to the RC213V be as seamless as the new bike’s gearbox? Probably not, and Scott would be the first person to admit that. He spent much of the first Sepang test, like Jack Miller, with the electronic aids dialled down so that he could get a real feel for the new bike, its power and the best way to handle it. If the machine is new, the environment is not: the young Englishman is back with the Marc VDS team that took him into Moto2 back in 2010 and almost to the title in 2013. ‘More jokes this test than all season!’ Redding said after rejoining the ‘family’ in Valencia at the end of last year. Scott finished 2014 in 12th place overall for Honda Gresini, his best results being seventh places in the season-opener in Qatar and here in Australia close to the finish. A year’s experience, a return ‘home’ and some time to get fully acquainted with his new mount should work wonders.

Danilo Petrucci

danilo petrucci
Team
Pramac Racing
Rider no.
9
Bike
Ducati
CRT Origin
Italy
DOB
24/10/1990
Weight
77kg
Height
181cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins

Danilo is returning to what he calls the Ducati ‘family’ in 2015. Back in 2011 he was a Ducati rider in Superstock 1000 and he will be hoping that he can reproduce something like the success he enjoyed there: 10 poles, nine wins and the title! This is the likeable Italian’s fourth season in the premier class: he arrived in 2012 with the Came Ioda Racing Project and stuck with them through thick and thin for his first three seasons. Last year he finished 20th overall, riding an ART entry but missing several races after fracturing his left wrist in Spain early in the season. Best result was his 11th place in Aragon. Now he is a Pramac Ducati rider in partnership with Yonny Hernandez. For the first time he has access to his fellow-Ducati riders’ data to assist with the learning process. It’s a few years now since he was a Ducati tester, putting in the hard yards at Mugello, looking at the likes of Rossi and thinking, ‘Maybe one day…’ As he says, that moment has arrived.

Dani Pedrosa

dani pedrosa
Team
Repsol Honda Team
Rider no.
26
Bike
Honda
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
29/09/1985
Weight
51kg
Height
160cm
Grand Prix Victories
26
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins

Loyalty or luck? Dani Pedrosa’s Grand Prix career began with this century; in 2015, therefore, he enters his 15th season as a world championship rider – and every one of those seasons has been spent on Honda machinery. This will be his 10th year in the premier class. In the first nine, Dani won 26 Grands Prix – but never the title he craves to set alongside the three he won from 2003-2005 in 125cc and 250cc. The little Spaniard has been runner-up three times, third three times, fourth twice and fifth once. Always the bridesmaid… and the arrival of new star Marquez has slowed his progress considerably. Approaching 30, Pedrosa has a new trick to learn this season: how to get along with a new crew and in particular new crew chief Ramon Aurin, who once played the same role with Andrea Dovizioso and is, like Dani, a lifelong Honda man. Aurin wants a bit more aggression from his man in the early stages of the 2015 races; as for the loyalty side of things, Honda insist that Pedrosa was more hindered than may have been apparent by arm pump surgery early last year and was in contention for the runner-up’s spot again until his tangle with Iannone at the Island. The feeling remains – it’s now or never for Dani.

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