- 1993 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz has named Rob McElnea and Alex Barros as his most memorable team-mates.

"Probably my first team-mate is the one I remember the most; Rob McElnea. We had so much fun in '88. We weren't really competitive in a lot of places, we managed to win a few grands prix as a team, but just learning where to go and what to do. We had fun! Rob Mac definitely showed me the way.

"As far as competitiveness, Alex Barros probably pushed me more than anybody. It was tough. I realised early on he was going to have the speed in some places to race me, but maybe not in others."

Switching to the present, Schwantz said he expects the same guys to be upfront during this year's short MotoGP season, as long as they have to time to train and test beforehand.

"A lot depends on how much riding the guys get leading up to it. If they test and get comfortable I think you'll see the same group at the front. NASCAR just started racing here and there were a few surprises early on due to set-ups that were already close. That's what I see happening. Even racing at a track at a different time of year will change everything. It'll be challenging, but the best guys will still be at the front."

Current Suzuki star Alex Rins added: "Maybe two races [at the same track] will be better for the rookies or those that struggle to find a set-up during a normal weekend." (As reported, Aprilia is aiming to retain both Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone next season, with the Spaniard revealing he is close to what could be his last MotoGP contract.

"If I renew with Aprilia it will be my last contract, I don't know if it will be for two years or more."

Espargaro also confirmed that re-signing Iannone will be dependent on the outcome of his appeal against the 18-month ban. [Marca.com]

- Espargaro and Rins were among the riders back on track at the Circuit de Catalunya this week. Like Valentino Rossi and Fabio Quartararo (Misano), the pair shook-off some lockdown rust by training on superbikes, but Aleix's brother Pol remains the only rider on the current grid to have so far made a MotoGP return, courtesy of KTM's Red Bull Ring test.