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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 13:14 GMT
Steve Parrish's MotoGP Column
Steve Parrish
By Steve Parrish
BBC motorbikes commentator

Dani Pedrosa
I see this season being a titanic battle between Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi
Steve Parrish

It's all change for the start of the 2007 MotoGP season with the reduction in capacity of the bike's engines from 990cc to 800cc.

The regulation was designed to slow the riders down but in testing they have actually been going faster which is a huge relief.

We were all a little concerned when the rules were drawn up a few years back, but since the manufacturers have had so long to develop the new engines it looks like they've used their time very well.

The bikes haven't been suppressed at all and they are now more agile and manageable and they should be quicker through the corners.

As a result I think the racing will actually be closer.

606: DEBATE
Whether or not we will see more overtaking I'm not yet convinced, although I suspect possibly not, only because they haven't got the outright horsepower.

What I think will happen is that all the passing will be in the braking areas, although no one has raced yet so it will be very exciting to see what happens.

Qatar MotoGP
Live: Saturday, BBC Two, 1130 GMT

Onto the main protagonists and I see this season being a titanic battle between Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha's Valentino Rossi.

Rossi is the best, but Pedrosa's size and weight helps him and the package Honda has built will make him extremely hard to beat.

Rossi is still smarting and sore from losing the title last year and I think this year's challenge will centre around those two.

That said, I think quite a few riders will win races this season.

One of the dark horses will be Casey Stoner.

He showed his potential last year, but then kept falling off.

He has changed bike and tyre manufacturers to try to address this problem and I think he could win a few races.

Italian pair Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri will be there or thereabouts, however I have a suspicion that Stoner might get the better of his new team-mate at Ducati, Capirossi.

He is getting on a bit now and is one of the senior guys out there and I think Stoner might be a fly in the ointment for him.

I almost forgot to mention reigning world champion Nicky Hayden.

Jeremy McWilliams
Jeremy McWilliams is the oldest rider on the MotoGP grid

He has had such a torrid time in winter testing that I've got a horrid feeling he's not going to have a good year at all.

As for the British contingent, James Ellison has gone and we now have 42-year-old Northern Irishman Jeremy McWilliams riding for Ilmor.

He is a great rider and he's been a master over the years, but he is the oldest guy in the field on probably the slowest bike so the chances of anything happening for him are pretty slim.

I'm desperately hoping that Briton James Toseland will go on to win the World Superbikes title this season and then come to MotoGP and help us out.

Qatar is a hard track to start the season especially with the advent of the new tyre rule.

Teams are only permitted to choose 31 tyres to use over the weekend, 14 for the front and 17 for the back.

Qatar can be so changeable with wind and sandstorms affecting the track that it may make things very tricky indeed.



SEE ALSO
Complacency cost me title - Rossi
07 Mar 07 |  Motorbikes
Stoner ousts Gibernau at Ducati
19 Oct 06 |  Motorbikes
Veteran Capirossi raring to start
06 Mar 07 |  Motorbikes
Huge task for Ilmor - McWilliams
17 Feb 07 |  Motorbikes
Hayden claims shock world title
29 Oct 06 |  Motorbikes
MotoGP coverage on the BBC
01 Feb 07 |  Motorbikes
Contact the motorbikes TV team
14 Mar 06 |  Motorbikes


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