The wait for MotoGP engines to rev up is over, as riders and teams start their preparations for 2020.
On Friday, the premier class will see rookies, championship challengers and champions commence a busy month of testing before next month’s opening round.
What to expect in Sepang
Yamaha star Maverick Vinales dominated the post 2019 season tests in Valencia and Jerez, and with a new contract signed and sealed, expect the Spaniard to be at the top of the timesheets when all said and done.
While finishing atop the leaderboard in testing guarantees nothing once the season starts as Vinales knows all to well, it doesn’t hurt to show the potential you have.
Who will be pushing Vinales hardest? could it be Fabio Quartararo on his 2020 factory Petronas bike? Improving on a year like the Frenchman had in 2019 is no an easy feat, but starting this weekend the sophomore rider will be looking to do just that.
Jorge Lorenzo got his first glimpse of the new M1 Yamaha and will carry on his recent testing duties, while former teammate Valentino Rossi, will also be on track for the first time in 2020.
A team to look out for will be the new look retro Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Joan Mir, but not just because of the new livery.
Suzuki have not made flashy moves during the offseason like Yamaha, nor are they the defending champions. However, they have more than an outside chance to make a statement towards a championship challenge, and that all starts this weekend.
Speaking of the champion Repsol Honda team, Alex Marquez will be back on his RC213V for the second time in a week at Sepang after taking part in the recent Shakedown test.
Marc Marquez once again enters the year as the heavy favorite to match Rossi’s record of seven premier class titles and nine overall, but will be limited during the Malaysia test, as he continues his recovery for shoulder surgery.
Like Alex, fellow rookie Brad Binder will be competing against the man who beat him to the Moto2 by only three points.
Binder was also in action during the shakedown test, taking every opportunity to acclimatise himself to the KTM RC16.
The Austrian team had a brilliant season in 2019, and with Dani Pedrosa topping the Shakedown test, signs are pointing towards more improvements come the 2020 opener at Losail.
Runners up of the last three seasons Ducati will be looking to finally go one better in 2020, and the first course of action will be to see if the bike has made the steering and cornering improvements so often lamented by Andrea Dovizioso.
Perhaps the biggest challenger for Ducati will be Jack Miller who came into his own in 2019. The Australian has finished eighth in the last four years of racing at Sepang.
Aprilia are still without Andrea Iannone due to his ban, and will be relying on team leader Aleix Espargaro and test rider Bradley Smith.
The shakedown test was the first year where MotoGP rookies were given the chance to compete, and now have four more official tests before round one.