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For the 2006 season, all four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha) and Italian manufacturer Ducati fielded factory sponsored teams in MotoGP. In addition to the factory teams who receive direct support from the manufacturers’ racing departments, there are several satellite Grand Prix teams. These teams either lease or buy equipment from the major manufacturers, and most riders make their MotoGP debuts riding for satellite teams.


Ducati

Ducati Marlboro had a successful season in 2006 with Italian Loris Capirossi clinching 3rd position in the championship. Ducati’s other rider, 33 year old Spaniard Sete Gibernau, had a disappointing season that was punctuated by crashes and injuries. Gibernau announced his retirement from motorcycle racing at the end of the season. Ducati also provided bikes to satellite team Pramac D’Antin Ducati in 2006. German Alex Hofmann and Spaniard Jose Luis Cardoso both had difficult seasons, placing 17th and 20th respectively in the championship. back to top


Honda

The factory Honda team, Repsol Honda, has a long history of success at the top level of motorcycle racing. The Honda RC211V is considered by many to be the best overall machine in MotoGP. Repsol Honda’s 2006 riders were Championship winner Nicky Hayden, a 25 year old American who dominated the AMA Superbike series before coming to MotoGP, and Dani Pedrosa, a diminutive Spaniard who has won championships in both the 125cc and 250cc classes of Grand Prix racing. Honda also fields riders on satellite teams including Italian Marco Melandri and Spaniard Toni Elias on the Fortuna Honda team, Australian Casey Stoner riding for Honda LCR, and Japanese rider Makoto Tamada on the Konica Minolta Honda team. back to top


Kawasaki

Kawasaki had only two entries in the MotoGP championship for 2006. Racing a bike that was significantly down on power compared with the Honda and Ducati, Shinya Nakano, a 29 year old Japanese rider, and Frenchman Randy De Puniet struggled to be competitive. back to top


Suzuki

Like Kawasaki, the factory Suzuki team, Rizla Suzuki, only fielded two machines in 2006. Since the beginning of the four stroke era, Suzuki has struggled to produce a competitive machine. At the beginning of the 2006 season, development of the bike was handed over to American rider John Hopkins. Hopkins, along with Australian teammate Chris Vermeulen, dramatically improved the performance of the motorcycle and finished 10th and 11th in the championship. back to top


Yamaha

With five time world champion Valentino Rossi leading the development of their machine, Yamaha went into the 2006 season confident and competitive. Fielding two riders, Rossi and American rider Colin Edwards, Yamaha was set to defend the championship that they won in 2005.

Rossi’s flamboyant and beautiful riding style produced five wins during the season, but he finished outside of the top 10 positions in six races. Going into the last race of the season at Valencia with an 8 point lead, Rossi looked as though he had the championship won. Unbelievably, he crashed early in the race, handing the championship to Honda’s Nicky Hayden. Colin Edwards finished more races than Rossi in 2006, but only managed to secure a podium finish in one race. Despite his lack of speed this season, Edwards’ consistency earned him 7th overall in the championship. Also on Yamahas for 2006 were Spaniard Carlos Checa and Englishman James Ellison, both riding for the Tech 3 Yamaha team. Neither rider had a competitive year.


Team Roberts

Last but definitely not least was the single rider Team Roberts. Run by former world champion Kenny Roberts, Team Roberts produced a machine utilizing a Honda engine in a beautiful one-off chassis. The bike was piloted by Roberts’ son Kenny Roberts Jr. who completed the season with an amazing 6th place in the championship. back to top


The Class of 2006:

Class of 2006
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  1. Colin Edwards
  2. Valentino Rossi
  3. Chris Vermeulen
  4. John Hopkins
  5. Casey Stoner
  6. Kenny Roberts, Jr.
  7. Makoto Tamada
  8. Carlos Checa
  9. James Ellison
  10. Dani Pedrosa
  11. Nicky Hayden
  12. Sete Gibernau
  13. Loris Capirossi
  14. Shinya Nakano
  15. Randy de Puniet
  16. Toni Elias
  17. Marco Melandri
  1. Ducati Racing
  2. Pramac d'Antin Racing
  3. Honda Racing
  4. Konica Minolta Honda
  5. Honda LCR
  6. Kawasaki Racing
  7. Kenny Roberts Racing
  8. Rizla Suzuki
  9. Yamaha Racing
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