This coming weekend kicks off the MotoGP season in South Africa, and begins the Rossi era at Yamaha. Anyone have any predictions about first race results, as well as world champion for 2004? While I have always rooted against him since he began to dominate, Rossi is the best rider in the world, but now not on the best bike. The Yamaha has not been competitive for over a year, although he has managed to be as fast as the Honda riders and significantly quicker than the other Yamaha riders in testing. South African GP predict: 1. Barros (Honda) 2. Gibernau (Honda) 3. Rossi (Yamaha) Barros is the most experienced rider on the track and has beaten Rossi in a straight up fight when they both had V-5 Hondas at the end of 2002. His move from Yamaha to Honda has sort of been forgotten in all the Rossi hype of the off-season. The Yamaha may not quite be there at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the first few races, Rossi & Co. will be very competitve. World Championship 2004 predict: 1. Rossi 2. Barros 3. Biaggi Even though many print mags doubt he can do it, I really think that barring injury or reliabiltiy problems, Valentino Rossi can do it this year. He is an underdog in some ways this year (actually anyone riding a non-Honda is an underdog), so it will be a fun year. Further comments & opinions: There are 6 Honda riders. The american riders (Edwards and Hayden) will struggle to be in the top half of just the Honda riders, much less the world championship standings. All of the hype about Hayden being world champ in '04 is just that, hype. Ducati will be competitive, but not at all the racetracks, IMO. Xaus will crash his brains out as he has done each time he moved up to faster bikes, but will be fast when he can keep it upright. Capirossi is still their best rider, and may win a race or two, but Ducati will not win the manufacturers or riders championship. The other Yamaha riders (Checa, Melandri) will have a hard time getting any print at all considering their champion teammate. Suzuki, Kawasaki, Aprilia, WCM, Proton-KR: will continue to fill out the grid, but will not challenge for wins or even podiums. Actually, KRJR has been fast in pre-season testing, but a podium for him and Suzuki would be be very noteworthy, IMO. After three F1 races, it looks like another runaway for Shumacher and Ferrari. MotoGP is the series to watch this year, it will be interesting. Let me know what you think.