Alexandre Barros The Great

Alex Barros has been around for years, but now he and Max Biaggi are the men most likely to topple Valentino Rossi. We talk to the 'old' man of MotoGP...

As the World Championship looms large in the headlights of the second year of MotoGP's newfound brilliance, the established order has once more had a pre-season re-shuffle.

As in previous seasons, the hot favourite is Valentino Rossi and Honda, the old family firm and its latest favoured son cutting expecting to cut as wide a swathe as ever. Next up is perennial second favourite Max Biaggi, also now back on a Honda, but a real threat on any machine.

Maybe, maybe Kenny Roberts on the all-new Suzuki will form a partnership capable of race wins at least - a better bet still being the upstart Ducatisti, especially proven MotoGP winner Loris Capirossi.

The biggest threat to Rossi may just come from Honda's biggest rival of recent years, Yamaha.

Now the mantle of top Yamaha rider has wrapped around the name of Alex Barros, newly installed in the prime role of genuine title challenger - after 16 years of Grand Prix racing.

The reasons for Barros' sudden promotion to would-be King are obvious - his ability to beat Valentino Rossi in a fair fight, on ostensibly equal machinery. Not once but twice, Barros scalped Rossi in 2002, on a bike which was maybe not quite up to the mark of Rossi's very own HRC special.

The reasons why Barros has developed into a genuine title threat, after ten years of top ten championship finishes are somewhat more complex, and we attempt to find them out - from the man himself.

Speaking at the pre-season IRTA tests at Estoril in Portugal, Barros was relaxed and confident about his 2003 chances. Leaving Estoril as fastest rider, Barros had once more underlined his newfound greatness, an on-track turn of speed that is matched by his quick-witted response to questioning and a willingness to answer enquiries some other riders would have shied away from.

Continue for the Alex Barros Interview

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