2014 MotoGP season starts this weekend

Jorge Lorenzo was very unhappy with his new tires, saying they didn't offer enough cornering capability. Photo: MotoGP

We’ve already seen teams testing, but the 2014 MotoGP season starts in earnest this weekend with the traditional race under the lights in Qatar. This year, there are a lot of interesting subplots to follow, such as:

1). Can Marc Marquez repeat? Many onlookers suspected he’d maim himself quickly enough when he was given a factory ride last year, but he convincingly took the title. He’s injured now, though, with a broken leg thanks to a crash while practicing at a dirt track facility. He’s expected to race this weekend, but he’s only been walking for the last few days. If this injury slows him down, some of his competition (specifically, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa) might be able to build up a decent lead in the standings.

2). Will Cal Crutchlow’s move to Ducati pay off? Crutchlow was impressive on his satellite Yamaha in the last couple years, but was unable to land a spot on the factory team, and it seemed even his satellite seat was in danger. So, he packed his bags and headed to the Ducati paddock (reportedly making quite a payday in the process). Andrea Dovizioso outpaced him in all three practice sessions, but Ducati seems to have put their trust in Crutchlow to improve their team’s fortunes, perhaps with some help from the rulebook. Speaking of which …

3). Will Dorna stick to the rules? It’s a trick question, we know, since the rules change so frequently these days, seemingly bending to the whim of the day. It’s time for this race series to have a set of hard rules that are fair to everyone, but as we’ve detailed already, the 2014 rulebook is a proper mess.

4). Where are all those production racers going to finish? Nicky Hayden, in particular, has to be pretty unhappy; he jumped over to the Drive M7 Aspar team to ride one of the new Honda production machines, and ended up even further back in the standings than the Ducati machines. As the season goes by, will Hayden and his partners-in-crime make things more interesting, or will we just see a repeat of the CRT fiasco?


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