Rossi and Iannone Show Off New Helmets, Stoner Rides at Sepang

Stoner and the 2016 Ducati Desmosedici GP16 16 photos
Photo: Ducati
Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Casey Stoner at Sepang, February 2015Rossi's Sepang helmetRossi's Sepang helmetRossi's Sepang helmetRossi's Sepang helmetIannone's seagull helmetAndrea Iannone hits a seagull, Phillip Island, 2015
Andrea Iannone follows into the steps of Valentino Rossi, if not in terms of on-track performance, at least as far as the cool helmet graphics go. At Sepang, both Italians showed off their new helmet design for the first pre-season test of the year, and we guess that MotoGP would be so much cooler if more riders took to this.
Of course, it may be only a coincidence that both riders are Italian and they both use AGV helmets, but this is only for the sake of statistics. It was funny to see Valentino Rossi bringing a winter-themed helmet to Malaysia and riding with it in the searing heat at Sepang.

The Doctor's lid bears the signature of Aldo Drudi of Drudi Performance, an artist commissioned for an impressive number of limited edition helmets in all powersports classes. For the Sepang helmet, Rossi dropped the Chihuahua theme and retained only the iconic "tartaruga," the 46 turtle decal on the visor.

A smiling snowman dominates the helmet, with a carrot nose and neon yellow cap and scarf. Snowflakes adorn the back of the lid and the side of the chin bar, with three ample Monster logos against the carbon fiber texture. Small Oakley Os and Drudi Performance are the only other decals used. No word on it now, but we might get to see a replica in stores before winter is over.

Iannone took to a funnier helmet design, paying tribute, if we might say so, to the seagull he hit last year at Phillip Island. Back then, a seagull that was on the track flew into Iannone's way and the Ducati bike hit it full-on.

The seagull left a big hole in the front cowl, but this did not prevent Iannone from finishing the race in a glorious third position. The seagull design was introduced with a short text reading "Dedicated to my friend, The Australian Seagull. Always in my heart!" most likely a symbol of the luck the bird bore Iannone in that race.

Stoner decides to take a Ducati on the Sepang track with the rest of the grid

Casey Stoner will be on the track on Tuesday at Sepang testing alongside his former rivals, and it's going to be a majestic Tuesday as he decided to join the MotoGP riders on the second day of the test. Stoner already made the first outings with the new Ducati bikes before the official sessions, and was around two seconds off the leading lap times of the circuit.

This would put him in the 12th - 14th overall position in a virtual race. Even if such a (virtual) placement may seem little from a MotoGP legend and two-time world champion in the premier class, we must not forget that it's been quite some time since he was last time astride a MotoGP machine.

Even so, the Ducati he rides now has almost nothing in common with his 2010 Desmosedici, the electronics are completely different... and he was on Michelin tires for the first time. Considering these "handicaps," we wonder how fast he will be once he gets to know his way around the new machine and tires...

Stoner once more said that he has no intentions of making a wildcard appearance. He added that he wanted to substitute for Pedrosa because he was unable to race, and this should not be interpreted as a desire to race at any cost. Still, he ended his brief statement saying, "It depends on many things. We'll see what happens."

So stay tuned for the report on the second day at Sepang and the historic return of Stoner among his former rivals.
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