We have been getting more and more excited about the 2005 MotoGP season as the April 10 season opener at Jerez, Spain draws closer. We have been saying for a while now that 2005 should offer some extremely close racing, and timesheets from MotoGP testing today in Qatar seem to back up that belief.
Top riders from Honda and Ducati pushed for fast times today, with the top seven riders all running in the 1m 57s range, whereas yesterday (the first day of the test) Nicky Hayden had sat atop the sheets with a 1m 58.36s lap.
Makoto Tamada (Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Ducati) shared the top spot today, both running 1m 57.69s laps (both teams have issued press releases declaring their rider to have posted fastest time of the day). Incredibly, the top seven riders posted times spanning barely more than two-tenths of a second (Ducati rider Carlos Checa was seventh-fastest with a 1m 57.91s lap)!
Unfortunately for those (including us) trying to use this test as a preview for the season’s racing, the crystal ball is clouded by the absence of the Yamaha boys, including Gauloises Yamaha’s dynamic pairing of 2004 Champion Valentino Rossi and former WSB Champion Colin Edwards. Judging by the results of recent tests featuring the Yamahas alongside the Ducatis, however, it is likely Rossi and Edwards would have been on the pace if they were present.
All of this points to a competitive 2005 series with several manufacturers capable of running up front.