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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 09:43 GMT
BBC pundits on MotoGP 2007
Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden is the reigning MotoGP champion
The 2007 MotoGP season looks set to be every bit as exciting as 2006, which saw a tremendous tussle for the title between Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden.

Hayden prevailed, but five-times MotoGP world champion Rossi will be looking to hit back with this time around.

We quizzed the BBC's MotoGP team of Suzi Perry, Steve Parrish, Charlie Cox and Matt Roberts before the first race in Qatar on 10 March to find out what they think will happen this season.

WHAT EFFECT WILL THE CHANGE FROM 990cc to 800cc HAVE?

Suzi Perry: I don't think that things are going to seem that different to your average fan. The bikes have actually gone faster in testing so it could make it even more exciting.

606: DEBATE
Steve Parrish: The new regulations were designed to slow the riders down, but in testing they have actually been going faster which is a huge relief. The bikes haven't been suppressed at all and they are now more agile and manageable and they should be quicker through the corners.

Charlie Cox: I certainly don't think it has had the desired effect as Suzi and Steve have mentioned, as the riders are going faster! On the plus side I think the racing will be closer and someone who is light and aerodynamic like Dani Pedrosa will benefit massively.

Matt Roberts: The 800s don't have the same acceleration or top speed as the 990s but they are much quicker through the corners and require a more precise racing line. The manufacturers have had to virtually start from scratch and the machinery is a lot closer now too.

WILL DANI PEDROSA BE VALENTINO ROSSI'S BIGGEST THREAT?

Suzi: Dani will be breathing down Rossi's neck for sure this season. Valentino's end to last season was gutting but he is still the best and I fully expect him to win the championship.

Steve: Pedrosa will definitely be Rossi's biggest challenger. Pedrosa's size and weight helps him and the package Honda has built will make him extremely hard to beat. Rossi though will be looking to make-up for the heartbreak he suffered in Valencia last year and he remains the best ever rider in MotoGP.

Charlie: Rossi is always the man to beat and I would never bet against him winning the title. It's always dangerous to judge on pre-season form but, from what we have seen, Pedrosa is certainly the most likely.

Matt: Agreed, for a rider of his stature and experience Dani performed miracles on the 990 bike last year but Honda have basically built the 800 for him. It is smaller, a little bit lighter and suits his riding style much more. In my opinion the title will be a two-way scrap between Rossi and Pedrosa, with Rossi to edge it!

WILL THERE BE ANY DARK HORSES FOR THE TITLE?

Suzi: I don't think there will be any other challengers for the title apart from Rossi and Pedrosa. The usual protagonists like Loris Capirossi will be strong as will Colin Edwards, who looks like he might have a good season. Casey Stoner will be one to look out for after his move to Ducati as long as he stops falling off his bike like he did last year!

Steve: Like Suzi says I think the title will either go to Rossi or Pedrosa so I don't think there will be any dark horses. However, Casey Stoner has changed his bike and tyre manufacturers so if he can manage to stay on his bike a bit more this year he could figure strongly.

Charlie: You can't rule out Nicky Hayden as he is the defending champion and he's a real trier. Casey Stoner is either fabulously fast or falling flat on his face so is very difficult to predict. I expect the Suzuki team to fare a lot better this year.

Matt: Unfortunately I don't think there is a dark horse for the title, although to be fair I didn't hear anybody predicting Nicky Hayden to win it at this stage last year! Colin Edwards has looked good in pre-season and like the others have said, if Casey Stoner stays fit he could cause more than the odd upset.

WHAT RACE ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?

Suzi: The number one race for me is Mugello. It's the home race for a lot of the riders and the fans are incredible, which makes for an unbelievable atmosphere.

Steve: I'm looking forward to Misano. It's brand new to the calendar so it will be a level playing field for all the riders. It's right down on the beach near Rimini on the Adriatic Coast. It's a real party city and I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

Charlie: Philip Island as my Dad lives nearby! And it really is a beautiful track. I love Donington for the passionate crowd it attracts.

Matt: It's hard to pick just one but at the moment I can't wait for Jerez. It's got everything - electric atmosphere, a great race track and just seeing so many people packed in there from 7am gives it a massive sense of occasion. It's like Glastonbury for bike fans!

WHAT MAKES MOTOGP SO SPECIAL?

Suzi: Its my life! To me it's the only motorsport you can watch on TV that has real racing.

Steve: With the new engine sizes and tyre regulations it feels like we are entering MotoGP Part Two. We've had 2001 to 2006 and now its seems like we are starting afresh which is very exciting.

Charlie: Who would have thought Rossi would have lost out to Hayden last year - the beauty of MotoGP is its sheer unpredictability.

Matt: I don't think motorcycle racing can be matched for drama and excitement and in MotoGP we are blessed to have such a great cast of characters - it's like an 18-part soap opera and you only have to watch one episode to be hooked.



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


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