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MotoGP

Mike Di Meglio

Team
Avintia Blusens
Rider no.
63
Bike
FTR
CRT Origin
France
DOB
17/01/1988
Weight
69kg
Height
171cm
Grand Prix Victories
0
Australian Grand Prix Victories
0
World Championship Wins
0
Mike di Meglio’s nomadic career in the intermediate class ended in the Czech Republic last season, his last outing on the JiRMotobi machine in a season cruelly curtailed by injury to his sacrum. The Frenchman heads into his premier-class phase without a victory in the intermediate range, whether in Moto2 or the old 250 classes, so it could be seen as a brave call by both parties to pair him with Hector Barbera on the Avintia Blusens Kawasaki-powered FTR ‘Open’ machines for 2014. But he sees his strong showing on 250cc machines as proof that he can pick the 1000cc bike up and gas it out of the corners quickly. Eleven years have slipped by since Mike’s world championship debut in Japan for Honda; and it’s six years since he took out the 125cc title on a Derbi. It was in the Czech Republic that he first got together with his new mount. “I tried the bike in a test at Brno last year, and when I got back on the FTR in Valencia I could see that the bike had undergone a major evolution. This makes me very optimistic about what we can achieve this season,” he said at the signing announcement.

Scott Redding

Team
GO&FUN Honda Gresini
Rider no.
45
Bike
Honda
CRT Origin
UK
DOB
4/01/1993
Weight
74kg
Height
184cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
It’s not often you hear the town of Quedgeley, in England’s west, and the city of Zurich mentioned in the same sentence, but Scott Redding comes from the first and now lives in the second so you could say he’s already come a long way since he first flung the leg over a little bike in 2001. His apprenticeship really began in Spain, where he was runner-up in the national 125cc titles in 2007, earning an immediate move into the World Championship ranks. He grabbed it with both hands: not only rookie of the year in 2008 but notching a maiden Grand Prix win in the best possible circumstances, on his Aprilia in front of his home crowd at Donington Park. Third in his second season, Scott moved up to Moto2 in 2010. In a fine final year in 2013 Redding won three times including his home race again and was right in the hunt until injuries aggravated at Phillip Island saw him miss two races. Now he gets his chance on the ‘Open’ Honda racer alongside Alvaro Bautista’s factory bike at Go&Fun Honda Gresini.

Pol Espargaro

Team
Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Rider no.
40
Bike
Yamaha
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
10/06/1991
Weight
62kg
Height
171cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
Two years younger than Aleix, Pol follows his big brother into the senior category with something in his kit-bag that Aleix didn’t have: a world championship. He won it last year with the Tuenti HP40 squad in Moto2, and in the end he won it by a margin of 40 points from Scott Redding which is less convincing when you remember the English rider was injured during the crucial run-in to the title. Still, six race wins, one 2nd-place finish and three 3rds is an impressive set of numbers and earned Pol the step up to join the Tech 3 Yamaha team. He comes with a strong grounding: 71 starts in 125cc, where he was a five-time winner, and 51 in Moto2. Training with his big brother, he says, can be frustrating because Aleix can always pull out something – but just watch Pol in three years’ time! Debuting in the world championship in 2006, his 13th place in Barcelona made him the sport’s youngest point-scorer; in 2007 he was rookie of the year. He was runner-up to Marc Marquez in Moto2 in 2012 and took full advantage of Redding’s late-season misfortune to clinch the title in Japan last year. Given Pol’s credentials, Aleix had better start looking over his shoulder…

Broc Parkes

Team
Paul Bird Motorsport
Rider no.
23
Bike
PBM
CRT Origin
Australia
DOB
24/12/1981
Weight
64kg
Height
170cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
A man born on Christmas Eve would be used to his share of presents but December 2013 brought one of the biggest of all – a place in the peak category of his profession, riding for Paul Bird Motorsport, most likely on a PBM Aprilia. It’s a long way from the Hunter to Andorra in the Pyrenees, but that’s where Broc based himself to make it easier to pursue a career path he chose when he was bewitched by Wayne Gardner’s world title-winning feats. His road racing success began back in 1998 in the Australian 125cc scene; in 2000 he went to Formula X in Japan; and in 2001 he made his WSBK debut under the guidance of none other than Wayne Gardner. He did yeoman service in World Supersport, with teams like Ten Kate and then Yamaha Germany. He’s no stranger to PBM either: he raced for them in the 2009 WSBK series before returning to Ten Kate. A hectic 2013 saw Parkes race in World Enduro, World Superbikes, the Asian road racing series and most importantly, winning the Australian FX SBK crown. When they get to Phillip Island it will be his second Grand Prix there: Broc was a 125cc wild-card rider back in 1999!

Yonny Hernandez

Team
Energy T.I. Pramac Racing
Rider no.
68
Bike
Ducati Medelin
CRT Origin
Colombia
DOB
25/7/1988
Weight
73kg
Height
183cm
Grand Prix Victories
0
Australian Grand Prix Victories
0
World Championship Wins
0
‘Full gaasssss!’ is the Hernandez catch-cry and he gets the chance to exploit it to the full in 2014 as a full-time Pramac Ducati rider alongside Andrea Iannone. The Colombian first joined the team in time for the Aragon round last season, deputising for the unfortunate Ben Spies. “I am happy because this bike has much more power compared to the one I was used to, the electronics are totally different and I need to change my riding style to be faster, but today I rode the best bike of my life,” said the elated Yonny. He took excellent advantage of his chance, with points-scoring finishes in his first four outings, including only the second 10th-place result of his career, achieved in Malaysia. When the sad news of Ben’s retirement came through, the satellite Ducati outfit had no hesitation: “We are very happy to confirm Yonny because he immediately proved his enthusiasm for and confidence in our team and in Ducati,” said the team. “He has great potential but not much experience with this type of bike, and we will do everything in our power to transform his potential into good results. “He started last season with Paul Bird’s outfit on the ART machine in the CRT class, taking four points finishes before his switch to the Duke. He finished 18th overall on 21 points.

Nicky Hayden

Team
Drive M7 Aspar
Rider no.
69
Bike
Honda
CRT Origin
USA
DOB
30/07/1981
Weight
69kg
Height
173cm
Grand Prix Victories
3
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
1
The Kentucky Kid’s long association with Ducati came to an end after the 2013 season, his fifth with the Italian marque. It saw Hayden finish 9th overall, as he had done in 2012, with a best result of 5th at Le Mans. Otherwise it was a season of difficulties and downright mediocre results just inside the top 10, and he ended it one spot behind teammate Andrea Dovizioso. The forthright American admitted it had been a frustrating five years for him, a time of intense effort for little tangible reward in terms of his MotoGP profile – and it’s a paradox that he should experience a sense of relief when, for the first time, he will not be a factory rider. Now Nicky’s back on a Honda, albeit an ‘Open’ bike in the new-look Aspar team where he will partner another long-time Honda stalwart in Hiroshi Aoyama. At least Hayden is ‘home’ with the marque that carried him to those three long-lost wins in 2005-06.

Jorge Lorenzo

Team
Yamaha Factory Racing
Rider no.
99
Bike
Yamaha
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
4/5/1987
Weight
65kg
Height
172cm
Grand Prix Victories
31
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
2
Lorenzo fought like a lion to hold off the young upstart on the Honda last season: he even rode through the pain barrier, taking a ridiculously short time out after mid-season injury to get back on the horse and try desperately to maintain the momentum taken from his wins in Mugello and Barcelona. He finished off his year with three straight successes in the final three races but ultimately fell short by a tantalising four points. If anyone is to challenge Marquez this year it’s probably this man: he knows how much that two-race dip when he took just 11 points from Assen and Germany cost him and he will be out to avoid a repetition in 2014. He kept his returning teammate Rossi in check, outscoring the Italian by almost 100 points; despite the prodigious, precocious Marquez he is probably the most complete rider of the moment. Don’t bet against him in 2014…

Cal Crutchlow

Team
Ducati Team
Rider no.
35
Bike
Ducati
CRT
No
Origin
UK
DOB
29/10/1985
Weight
66kg
Height
171cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
On the face of it, it’s not a promising start: Cal claimed after the first day of the first official test of 2014 that the new Ducati is not much different from the old one, a feeling confirmed by the bike’s 14th-fastest time overall. Early days, though, and the 29-year-old Englishman is bound to feel a little out of his comfort zone after a long stint under the wing of HervePoncharal on Yamaha machinery. “He is a rider I respect a lot and a man I really appreciate and love,” Poncharal said when news of Crutchlow’s move to Ducati broke. “I am not happy to lose him, but on the other hand he took a decision I think is very important for his career; he is going to be a full factory rider, he is going to have a decent salary and, if he can make that challenge work where some big names have failed, I think it is going to be very exciting.”‘The Dog’ had the proverbial year of two halves in his final season with Tech 3 Yamaha, posting four podium finishes in a mid-year five-race patch before injury slowed his charge. He finished up a highly creditable fifth overall after some memorable tussles with Rossi on the factory bike.

Aleix Espargaro

Team
Power Electronics Aspar
Rider no.
41
Bike
FTR Yamaha
CRT Origin
Spain
DOB
30/7/1989
Weight
70kg
Height
181cm
Grand Prix Victories
Australian Grand Prix Victories World Championship Wins
“I aim at fighting with the factory riders,” said the elder Espargaro brother on the first day of the 2014 season’s opening test in Malaysia, and you got the feeling he wasn’t grandstanding either. After all, this is the man who easily topped the CRT standings for the second year in a row in 2013 with 93 points, finishing 11th overall after a consistently quick and aggressive season. His best result may ‘only’ have been 8th, but he was there four times in a row between Mugello and the Sachsenring and he failed to score points on only two occasions. To help put his year in perspective, let’s remember that teammate Randy de Puniet was four places and a telling 57 points in arrears of the Spaniard. A virtual fixture in the top 10 on the grid, Aleix hit further heights with second-row starts in places like Assen and Misano. Maturing nicely after a ridiculously early start to his World Championship career, Espargaro – carrying #41 in tribute to YouichiUi – will again be one of the men to watch in the new, more competitive ‘Open’ class of 2014.

Valentino Rossi

Team
Yamaha Factory Racing
Rider no.
46
Bike
Yamaha
CRT Origin
Italy
DOB
16/2/1979
Weight
67kg
Height
182cm
Grand Prix Victories
80
Australian Grand Prix Victories
5
World Championship Wins
7
As usual, Valentino was right: ahead of his return to Yamaha last season he stated that there was no strategy left in racing, only pure speed. He didn’t have quite enough of it: Rossi was usually the last of the Big 4 – the two Yamahas and the two factory Hondas – as he clung on to his status as a title contender. At Assen he finally broke through for his lone victory of the season – the 80th of his premier-class career and his first since way back in 2010. No wonder he called it “one of the best victories in my career because it is one of the most wanted and expected for such a lot of time”. He got his first year back at Yamaha off to a great start with second in Qatar but dipped for four races, culminating in that controversial clash with Bautista on his home track at Mugello; but from then on he was out of the top four on just the one occasion, in Japan. Is the magic still there? Rossi believes it is – and we must all hope the sport’s most charismatic rider is right.

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