SR's El Jefe takes a spin on Chris Vermuelen's Suzuki GSV-R990, Valentino Rossi's Yamaha YZR-M1, Dani Pedrosa's Honda RC211V, Randy DePuniet's Kawasaki ZX-RR and Troy Bayliss' Ducati Desmosedici GP6 at the Valencia circuit in Spain
**Alas, they are now gone.With the move to a smaller, 800cc format in the name of "safety," the MotoGP series once again turned the page on a breed of firebreathers that will be remembered for their blazing 200-plus-mph speeds on many racetracks (which started the clamoring for some sort of speed limitation) and their initial (before traction control) tire-spinning/ smoking/sideways antics. Yes, the 800cc machines are already turning quicker lap times in preseason testing, but like the 500cc multicylinder two-strokes before them, the difficulty and skill involved with hustling a 240-plus-horsepower racing motorcycle around the world's circuits made the achievement of being competitive in such a rarified arena that much more satisfying.
Luckily, SR's editor was able to finagle rides on the last 990cc MotoGP machines from the five major manufacturers' teams after the final GP in Valencia. In the past, we've used overseas contributors for these stories, but the opportunity to experience the last of the big-bore MotoGP machines and give accurate, firsthand information directly to you the reader was too good to pass up.
We hope you enjoy this last look at the MotoGP class of '06.