The 2009 MX1 and MX2 Motocross World Championships start this weekend in Faenza, Italy - where the series ended in 2008 with world titles for David Philippaerts (MX1) and Tyla Rattray (MX2).
An impressive nine manufacturers - Aprilia, CCM, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, TM, Yamaha - and 40 riders will be present at the season opener, but the spotlight will be on home heroes Philippaerts, who collected his maiden title at Faenza last year, and multiple MX2 champion Tony Cairoli, starting his first full premier class season.
The two Yamaha riders are sure to be fired up by the home support, and eager to inflict an early victory over each other ahead of what looks like being a season-long title fight.
However, plenty of others have the potential to still the limelight, including Teka Suzuki World MX1 team-mates Steve Ramon and Ken de Dycker, who collected second and third in the 2008 championship after a hard fought GP in Faenza, which they both entered with a title chance.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Max Nagl will be looking to repeat his 2008 Faenza clean sweep, while fellow factory KTM rider Jonathan Barragan was also a solid contender throughout last year, finishing the season in fourth.
Honda will field two factory teams - Martin Honda MX, featuring Kevin Strijbos and Marc de Reuver, plus CAS Honda competitors Cedric Melotte and Billy Mackenzie. All four are former GP winners.
As well as Philippaerts (Monster) and Cairoli (Red Bull De Carli), Yamaha can count on 2007 title contender Josh Coppins, once again at Monster, and new De Carli signing Tanel Leok.
Former Motocross World Championship rider David Vuillemin will make his comeback to the series after a long period in the AMA. Riding for Bud Racing PSM Vuillemin completes a strong Team Green line-up that also includes fellow Frenchman Sebastien Pourcel in the Kawasaki Racing team. However, the 2008 MX1 Pole Position Award winner will not be 100% at Faenza due to a winter injury.
Aprilia Racing will start the season with an updated MXV 450 ridden by Manuel Priem and Julien Bill, while TM will be represented by Aigar Leok in MX1.
New British manufacturer CCM will line up Tom Church and Jason Dougan with the Buildbase CCM Racing colours.
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