The battle is on: MotoGP™ 2019 season preview

Miguel Oliveira Qatar testing 2019 MotoGP

Another exciting year of MotoGP™ action begins at this weekend’s season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar.

The pre-season tests are done and dusted, as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez once again prepares to defend his world title.

Plenty of new names join the 2019 grid, with Miguel Oliveira, Joan Mir and Francesco Bagnaia all earning well-deserved promotions to the premier class.

Mir and Bagnaia are the 2017 Moto3™ and 2018 Moto2™ world champions respectively, while Oliveira is the first rider to come through the Red Bull KTM system into MotoGP™.

Jack Miller remains with the Pramac Racing crew in 2019, the Australian now partnering reigning Moto2™ world champion Bagnaia.

Miller’s former teammate Danilo Petrucci takes up Jorge Lorenzo’s spot at Ducati, as Lorenzo forms a new powerhouse line-up at Repsol Honda alongside five-time world champion Marquez.

A fierce battle will continue at the sharp end of the field, with Ducati and Honda expected to battle it out for top honours from the first race of the season at Losail.

Honda in particular will be aiming to start their campaign on a positive note, having not won the traditional season-opening race since 2014. 

Meanwhile, Yamaha Racing will work especially harder towards a stronger 2019 following a below-par 2018 campaign.

Maverick Vinales’ victory at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2018 was the team’s only race win last year. It was the first time Valentino Rossi endured a winless year since his 2012 season back with Ducati.

Lap times were immensely tight throughout pre-season testing in Spain, Malaysia and Qatar, with Honda, Ducati and Yamaha each trading blows at the top of the timesheets.

The trio has been separated by no less than a handful of tenths for the majority of testing, setting up a thrilling year in 2019.

Meanwhile, Miller will continue to eye off more points-paying finishes as he enters his fifth MotoGP™ season.

The 24-year-old runs with a 2019-built Ducati bike mirroring the same specifications as the factory Ducati team.

The 2019 season welcomes the introduction of a new penalty, the Long Lap Penalty, at selected circuits throughout the year.

The new rule requires penalised riders to pass through a marked area at a safe point around the track that is some seconds slower than the normal racing line.

Down in Moto2™, Australian Remy Gardner has joined the Kalex-backed SAG Team alongside Japanese Tetsuta Nagashima.

The 20-year-old previously raced for Red Bull KTM Tech3 before making way for fellow KTM riders Marco Bezzecchi and Philipp Oettl to step up from the Moto3™ class.

The calendar remains unchanged in 2019, with the season commencing at the Grand Prix of Qatar in Losail.

Phillip Island’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2019 takes place on 25-27 October, before the season-ending race in Valencia on 17 November.

 

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