Bike stars gear up for MotoGP 2012

Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT) April 6, 2012
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Honda's world champion Casey Stoner won 10 of the 17 completed races in MotoGP last season, including the finale in Valencia. He is hoping to retain his Qatar race title in Sunday's season opener. AFP/Getty Images
Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo finished second at Japanese Grand Prix in October -- and second overall as the Spaniard relinquished his world title to Stoner. A finger injury ruled him out of the last three races. AFP/Getty Images
Honda's Andrea Dovizioso will be seeking his first race victory since his maiden win in 2009. The Italian placed third overall last year after registering seven podium placings. AFP/Getty Images
Another Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa, was fourth in 2011 after missing three races due to a fractured collarbone at the French Grand Prix in May. The Spaniard was runner-up to Lorenzo in 2010. AFP/Getty Images
Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi will seek to improve on a disappointing first season at Ducati, having ended 2011 in seventh place. AFP/Getty Images
American rider Ben Spies was Rossi's replacement at Yamaha's main team last year, and the 27-year-old won a race for the first time in the Netherlands and finished fifth overall. Getty Images
Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden was a world champion with Honda in 2006, but finished eighth last year and crashed in the final race. The 30-year-old American is starting his fourth season at the Italian team. AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Cal Crutchlow was a big success in the World Superbike series, but struggled after taking the step up to MotoGP last year with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. AFP/Getty Images
Hiroshi Aoyama was the top Japanese rider in MotoGP last year. The 30-year-old finished the season 10th for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team. AFP/Getty Images
Spanish rider Hector Barbera has switched to the Pramac Racing team for 2012 after two years at Ducati, where he finished 12th and then 11th overall. AFP/Getty Images
Young Czech rider Karel Abraham will be embarking on his second season in MotoGP. The 22-year-old was 14th overall for Ducati last year. AFP/Getty Images
The starting grid will be less colorful this year due to the absence of charismatic Italian rider Marco Simoncelli, who died after crashing at the Malaysian Grand Prix in October. Getty Images