The inaugural Moto2 World Championship had everything. Eight different winners provided us with one of the most competitive championships anywhere in motorsport.

The season was also struck by tragedy as Japanese star Shoya Tomizawa was killed in a horrendous accident at Misano.

In the end, Toni Elias took the title with three races to spare and as he prepares for a return to MotoGP, 38 hungry hopefuls see the opportunity that lies ahead of them, if they produce this year.

Young hotshots have joined some very familiar faces with any one of a dozen riders, maybe more, eying a shot at the title.

The man best placed to do so looks to be Julian Simon. The former 125cc World Champion was unable to keep pace with champion Elias but eight podium finishes demonstrated his class. His year-long battle over the runner-up spot with Andrea Iannone was one of the highlights of 2010 and the Italian is sure to send sparks flying again.

Toni Elias claimed Moto2 glory after previously running in MotoGP. A number of riders will be looking to follow in his footsteps.

Mika Kallio found a second season in the top class tough going and will be looking to rebuild his career in Moto2. Aleix Espargaro and Alex de Angelis also have 800cc experience and will be looking to taste champagne in 2011.

British fans should also have cause for excitement this year, with two of their brightest young talents set to renew hostilities. Scott Redding‘s 2010 campaign was hindered by the tragic events of Misano, which he was involved in, but his performances, before and after, indicate he will be a major contender. He will be joined by 125cc graduate Bradley Smith, who makes the step up after three impressive years in the 2-stroke series with Kev Coughlan completing a trio of British competitors.

But undoubtedly the most mouth-watering addition to the championship is the reigning 125cc World Champion Marc Marquez. Despite leaving it to the final round, the teenager dominated the series, winning 10 out of 17 events and has shown all the signs of starring in Moto2 as well.

When the floodlights come on, and the red light goes out Qatar this weekend, 38 riders will begin a 17 race dogfight to find a champion. Who will prevail is anyone's guess. We're certainly going to have fun finding out.

Ones to Watch

Julian Simon

60. Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)

Last season's runner-up is back for a second crack at the title after an impressive year where he tasted champagne on a regular basis. Race victories eluded him, but Simon will surely be among the frontrunners this year.

65. Stefan Bradl (Viessman Kiefer Racing)

A solid, if unspectacular 2010 burst into life with a shock win in Portugal. The German was dominant at the final pre-season test and if he can carry that form into Qatar, he could get off to a flyer.

93. Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol)

Still only 18, this Spaniard is a real star in the making. After taking the 125cc title last year, Marquez has immediately settled into his new environment. He was Bradl's closest challenger in Jerez and a second World Crown isn't out of the question.

Andrea Iannone

29. Andrea Iannone (Speed Master)

No-one can doubt the Italian's pace but last year could have been so much better. Mistakes such as overtaking under yellow flags in Catalunya saw victories slip away. If he can cut them out, he has the speed to win races.

12. Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2)

The former 125cc World Champion was a proven performer in the 250cc class before starring in Moto2's inaugural season. Five podiums saw him take 4th in the Championship and his testing form indicates he will be among the frontrunners this year.

40. Aleix Espargaro (Pons Racing)

After a year in MotoGP which saw him become a little too familiar with the gravel trap, The Spaniard has immediately declared himself happier in Moto2. And with younger brother Pol moving up from 125s, the pressure is on.

54. Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP)

The two-time World Supersport Champion showed signs of his potential by leading the way on his debut at Estoril, before fading late on. With a pre-season under his belt, he could make the headlines again this year.

15. Alex de Angelis (JIR Moto2)

After three outings in MotoGP, the experienced de Angelis returned to Moto2 and immediately mixed it with the pacesetters. Three straight podiums, including victory at Phillip Island have earned him a second year with JIR.

16. Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing)

The Frenchman is certainly never far from fireworks and victory at Silverstone showed his potential, but that form wasn't maintained and he will have to step up his game to mount a title challenge.

The Brit Pack

Scott Redding

45. Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team)

The Brit relished the move up from the 125cc class and regularly mixed it at the front in the second half of the year. His response to the tragedy at Misano was admirable and that first win can't be too far away.

38. Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing)

A regular rostrum finisher at 125cc level, Bradley Smith has finally made the move to Moto2. The Oxfordshire boy has now become a man and should feel more at home on the 600cc machinery.

49. Kev Coughlan (Aeroport de Castello)

The 22 year old only took part in two Moto2 races in 2010 but caught the eye with a strong Qualifying performance at Aragon. He now has a full season to show what he can do.

Stick with The Checkered Flag throughout 2011 for the latest news and results from the Moto2 World Championship