MotoGP 2005 preseason starts at Sepang

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    With the winter testing ban now over, the majority of MotoGP teams get straight back to work this weekend in Malaysia at the first preseason tests of 2005.

    It’s a crucial date for the factories as they look to develop their latest evolution machinery ahead of the new season, whilst for the fans it’s a first chance to see some of the top riders in action for the first time with new teams and bikes.

    After two post-season tests at Valencia and Sepang in November, current World Champion Valentino Rossi will continue with development of the new Yamaha YZR-M1, although this time he will be joined by his new team-mate Colin Edwards.

    The former World Superbike Champion finished fifth overall in last year’s final championship standings, having scored points in all but one of the sixteen rounds, but was only able to score two podiums aboard the satellite Honda RC211V and will look to significantly improve that figure on the M1.

    Yamaha’s own satellite team, the Tech3 squad run by Herve Poncharal, has a completely new look for 2005 with Spanish rookie Toni Elías joined by his compatriot Rubén Xaus.
    Whilst Elías has already tested the bike, former Ducati rider Xaus will be getting his first outing on the YZR-M1 after an impressive first season in which he scored one podium finish.

    The full Honda squad will also be present at Sepang, with no fewer than seven riders set to battle it out for MotoGP honours on the Japanese machinery in 2005.

    Max Biaggi has already been confirmed as the lead rider for HRC and the test will be a crucial challenge for the Italian as he rides a motorcycle for the first time since breaking his right ankle in a supermoto crash two months ago.

    Also at Honda, Troy Bayliss will be joined by new team-mate Alex Barros at Camel Honda, whilst Marco Melandri continues his adaptation to the RC211V as partner to Sete Gibernau at Team Telefonica Movistar. Meanwhile, Makoto Tamada and his new Konica Minolta Honda team will continue to test with Michelin tyres after switching from Bridgestone.

    Ducati Marlboro will test with Carlos Checa and Loris Capirossi just two days after presenting their 2005 versiona Desmosedici at the Madonna di Campiglio ski station in Italy whilst Team Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts Jr and John Hopkins were scheduled to start tests on the GSV-R on Friday, a day earlier than the other teams. Completing the Bridgestone line-up is the Kawasaki pairing of Shinya Nakano and Alex Hofmann.

    Despite being a private test, officials at the Sepang International Circuit have responded to huge public interest by offering free access to the grandstands for fans, making the Sepang test even more like the first Grand Prix of the year.

    *Subscribers to’s Sepang Test package, available now for the special price of just €5 or free of charge to End of Season package subscribers, will be able to watch video action from the test every day from Saturday 22nd January.

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