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Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 10:35 UK

Steve Parrish's MotoGP column

Steve Parrish
By Steve Parrish
BBC motorbikes commentator

MotoGP rivals Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi
Parrish favours Stoner (left) over Rossi for the title

We are in the midst of a credit crunch and the 2009 MotoGP season is not exempt from the global financial crisis.

Teams don't have the massive budgets of Formula 1 so everyone has had to tighten their belts and a lot of cost cutting has gone on.

MotoGP's promoters, Dorna, have introduced a raft of rule changes this year that should help teams significantly slash their budgets.

Race one of the season is in Qatar and every team will now be riding using a single tyre manufacturer, Bridgestone.

It is designed to make the races closer and eliminate some of the situations we had last year where Michelin's worked at some tracks but not others.

I still have my reservations whether it will make racing any closer, but it will be very interesting to see what impact it will have.

QATAR MOTOGP
Saturday 11 April
Qualifying: 1950-2300, BBC Red Button/online
Sunday 12 April
Preview show: 1300-1330, BBC Two/online
125cc and 250cc races: 1750-2005, BBC Red Button/online
Race live: 2045-2200, BBC Three/online (repeated on BBC Red Button from 2200)

Another major rule change is that teams will only have two tyre compounds with only 20 tyres (12 back and 8 front) for each weekend in dry weather conditions.

I am worried that there won't be enough of an overlap between the two compounds to suit all the drivers out there.

Riders have their own styles and needs and bikes have their own characteristics and it just seems to me that we will get to certain weekends and riders will struggle with the choices that they have in front of them.

Also practice time on the track before races has been cut by 40%. One of the four, one-hour practice sessions has been scrapped, and the other three have been cut to 45 minutes.

This is really going to affect a lot of riders and their engineers are really going to be earning their money.

They will need to have a bike that comes out of the garage on a Friday lunchtime that is on the pace immediately.

All the teams will need to build a bike that works on all tracks rather than one that could be great in one place and miles off the pace in another.

You never ever bet against the great Valentino Rossi but I am secretly backing 2007 champ Casey Stoner

Another thing which will be very intriguing for the last seven rounds is that teams will only be permitted to use five engines and they will have to last right through until the end of the season.

If they need to exceed that amount and use further engines they will be deducted 10 points every time they do so, which could be very significant.

This will make things a bit more tactical as riders will have to possibly drop the horsepower and revs a bit to protect the engines.

As for the race for the championship, you never bet against the great Valentino Rossi, but whisper it quietly, I am secretly backing 2007 champion Casey Stoner. I just think that he has the fastest package out there if he can keep some consistency up.

Valentino still astonishes me every time he gets on his bike by how enthusiastic and brilliant he is, but he has got a fight to hold on to his title this year as Stoner and his Ducati look so strong.

Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo is definitely the dark horse. He has learnt so much over the last year and he has leant how painful the sport can be.

He is a bright, smart young man who is only going to get faster and probably more consistent. He will be there snapping at their heels.

It will be consistency that will decide where the title goes. That was proven last year when Rossi, who was the only man to finish every round, won the championship.

As for Great Britain's James Toseland, he has endured a traumatic winter and needs to put it behind him both physically and mentally.

James Toseland
James Toseland has struggled over the winter

Out of everyone he probably had the worst winter testing, he crashed too much and really damaged himself.

I've seen him a lot over the winter in the Isle of Man and played golf with him and enjoyed the rare pleasure of beating him as he has been in so much pain.

He also hasn't been helped by a major falling out with his Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Colin Edwards.

James instigated the switching of their pit teams as he wanted to work with Colin's crew chief Garry Reinders as he had a communication problem working with Frenchman Guy Coulon.

This switch left Colin very angry and I can understand where he is coming from.

You try and build up a relationship with an engineer and he felt the rug had been snatched from underneath him so I have a bit of sympathy on both sides.

They don't communicate verbally at all now and there is a wall down the middle of the garage, which you could argue doesn't make for an harmonious team.

This year is going to be very, very hard for him.

Last year was his apprenticeship year, he learnt lots of tracks, learnt the ways of MotoGP and he did what was expected of him.

Now that's out of the way he needs to be knocking on the doors of podiums and finishing in the top six and I think he can.


Championship prediction:
1) Casey Stoner 2) Valentino Rossi 3) Jorge Lorenzo

Qatar prediction:
1) Casey Stoner 2) Valentino Rossi 3) Jorge Lorenzo

Steve Parrish was talking to Paul Birch.



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see also
Rossi glad to continue competing
08 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Lorenzo happy to keep on learning
06 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Toseland eyes greater consistency
07 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Toseland regrets Edwards fall-out
02 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Toseland crashes in Jerez test
29 Mar 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
17 Jan 09 |  MotoGP
Stoner romps to season finale win
26 Oct 08 |  MotoGP
Rossi roars to sixth world title
28 Sep 08 |  MotoGP
MotoGP calendar 2011
15 Mar 11 |  MotoGP
MotoGP on the BBC
01 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
MotoGP world championship
26 Oct 08 |  MotoGP
Contact the motorbikes TV team
06 Mar 07 |  MotoGP


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