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Rossi makes case for low-tech and cheaper bikes

MOTOGP must make bikes more low-tech and affordable if the sport is to ride out the credit crunch without further casualties, world champion Valentino Rossi said yesterday.

Kawasaki has pulled out and is seeking a buyer while Rossi's Yamaha team chose to unveil their 2009 bike online yesterday as a part of a raft of cost-cutting measures across the sport.

"I am very worried about the number of bikes on the MotoGP grid because in 2008 there were only 19, which was already not many," the Italian said in an online video.

"I hope that Kawasaki stay. We have to find a way to have more bikes on the track. I think that we need a bike that is a little less sophisticated and a little cheaper," added Rossi, who has long bemoaned the overuse of electronics in MotoGP.

Yamaha's new bike, the YZR-M1, was unveiled on the Internet in stark contrast to last year's glitzy presentation in Turin, Italy, attended by hundreds of journalists.

The credit crunch has led motorsport companies to scale back launches this season. Toyota's Formula One presentation also took place online.

Yamaha's unveiling suffered from some minor technical glitches but Rossi said the bike itself is shaping up well ahead of the season-opening grand prix in Qatar on April 12.

"I had the chance to try the 2009 prototype briefly... when I was very fast. The bike seems better and I was faster than I was with the 2008 version," the 29-year-old said.

The Italian romped to his eighth world championship across the classes last year, having gone two seasons without a title, and feels this season will be more competitive. "In 2009 it will be even more difficult because my adversaries, who suffered in 2008, are now out for payback and will be looking to beat me," he said.

Ducati's 2007 champion Casey Stoner, runner-up last year, will again be one of Rossi's rivals while Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo will be in the running having finished fourth in his debut season in 2008.

"I'm still missing a little mobility in my ankles, especially in the left one, but little by little they are clearing up," the Spaniard said before hailing Bridgestone, the only tires available to teams this season.


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