The lasting memories of the December Pirelli development tests at Kyalami in South Africa are many and varied, but arguably the most impressive aspect of the multi-team show was the sheer variety of machinery and engine configurations on display.
engine designs and technical approaches will be an integral part of what is already shaping up to be a magnificent 2009, and arguably the most radical departure from the recent norm will be the Aprilia RSV4.
A 65° v-four engine will power the compact and high-tech new Aprilia, making it a radical departure from the Italian company's previous four-stroke heritage of booming v-twins.
Ducati will be, of course, fielding their trademark v-twin once more, while BMW have chosen to make their own interpretation of the in-line four-cylinder four stroke, the S1000RR, but make it seemingly much narrower than most. Why? For greater aerodynamic performance and tighter mass centralisation.
Suzuki brings a new and smaller GSX-R engine architecture to the otherwise conventional in-line four table for 2009, while Kawasaki and Honda are the only two manufacturers in WSB this year with basically the same in-line four model to work on as 2008.
Yamaha, with its new R1, have designed an offset crankshaft engine, a first in production terms, which sees the engine firing order altered to provide torque in a more traction friendly way. Conventional on the outside, but for a traditional in-line four manufacturer from Japan, this can only be thought of as a real attempt at causing a revolution in evolution.
So, not only seven manufacturers will be fighting out the title in 2009, there will be several competing design philosophies to analyze round-by-round.
Next stop, Portimao for the official tests, on 23-25 January - first points up for grabs at the end of February.