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GP Week : Issue 4
W ITH two deadly Spanish rivals – Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo – Jerez’s vast 131,000-strong crowd had plenty of reason for the annual firecrackers and hysteria that mark the opening round in Europe. They probably didn’t mind which of the two won, but it was Pedrosa who obliged, with a copybook start-to-finish victory watched by King Juan Carlos, who was one of the first to shake the little Repsol Honda rider’s hand. Pedrosa had not seen another rider all race, and said later he’d been concentrating so hard on not making a mistake that he’d hardly seen his pit board either. Never one to show much emotion, he grimaced: “I’m very happy, and the team is happy. I hope the fans are happy too.” Behind him, there was a brawl only slightly less violent than the early laps at Qatar as the pursuit sorted itself out. Class rookie Lorenzo, starting from his second successive pole, held second for the first three of 27 laps, but Rossi was moving through, and got ahead of his Fiat Yamaha team-mate on lap four. But the positions were nearly reversed when Rossi miscounted the laps and slowed one too early. “Luckily I had enough gap on Lorenzo to stay ahead,” he said later. “It’s better to laugh about these things.” It was his first podium of the year, and his first on Bridgestone tyres – team-mate Lorenzo is on Michelins. When Rossi got to second, Pedrosa was less than 1.5 seconds clear. But try as he might, he couldn’t stop the gap stretching by a few tenths every lap. He only started to close when it didn’t matter any more. The race was a disaster for defending champion Casey Stoner (Marlboro Ducati), 30