The biggest MotoGP rider shake-up of recent years has occurred for the 2006 season, with several high profile competitors being replaced by young riders making their first steps into the premier grand prix class.

Out from last year have gone (with ages in brackets): Max Biaggi (34), Alex Barros (35), Troy Bayliss (36), Ruben Xaus (28), Roberto Rolfo (26), Franco Battaini (33) and Shane Byrne (29).

While into the series have come: Randy de Puniet (25), Dani Pedrosa (20), Jose Luis Cardoso (31), Chris Vermeulen (23) and Casey Stoner (20).

As a result, the age of the entry list has reduced considerably, with the most senior rider now being Carlos Checa - who will be 33 years and 5 months at this weekend's opening race - closely followed by fellow Spaniard Sete Gibernau, who is just 2 months younger. With Barros gone, Checa is also the rider with most experience in the premier-class having made 157 starts.

Meanwhile, 2005 250cc runner-up Casey Stoner will be the youngest full-time rider in MotoGP this year after taking the honour from Suzuki's John Hopkins, who has been the youngest for the last four years.

The average age of the MotoGP entry list at the first race of the year will be 27 years and 8 weeks, down from an average at the start of last year of 28 years and 27 weeks.

The youngest riders to have won a race in the premier-class of grand prix racing and the youngest championship winners are shown below:

Youngest riders to win the MotoGP/500cc championship:
1. Freddie Spencer 21 years 258 days (1983)
2. Mike Hailwood 22 years 160 days (1962)
3. John Surtees 22 years 182 days (1956)
4. Valentino Rossi 22 years 240 days (2001)
5. Gary Hocking 23 years 316 days (1961)

Youngest riders to win a MotoGP/500cc grand prix:
1. Freddie Spencer 20 years 196 days (Belgium/1982/Spa)
2. Norick Abe 20 years 227 days (Japan/1996/Suzuka)
3. Randy Mamola 20 years 239 days (Belgium/1980/Zolder)
4. Mike Hailwood 21 years 75 days (Britain/1961/IOM TT)
5. Valentino Rossi 21 years 144 days (Britain/2000/Donington)


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