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GP Week : Issue 6
catching him unawares into the slowest corner of the year. From there they stretched apart. “In the end, not a bad result,” said Rossi, who is still making friends with Bridgestones. Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha) had been following a couple of seconds behind, taking fourth off Hopkins on lap ten. By now, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda), gaining confidence and tyre warmth as the track dried, was closing fast. He took over fourth on lap 11, three seconds off the leaders ... worth a go. “I didn’t want to just cruise around in fourth.” Pushing hard, he paid the price in almost exactly the same place as Dovizioso on lap 17. The first five were established: there was a tough battle for fifth. On lap ten Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki), James Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha), Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) were all almost two seconds ahead of the clearly troubled Stoner, who had Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) right on him. Stoner recovered to pass them all and stretch them out by the finish, with Toseland next, then Vermeulen, Capirossi and Nakano completing the top ten. De Puniet had crashed while battling with Toseland. The two young Spaniards now share the points lead, while Rossi has pushed Stoner to fourth overall. M oto GP PORTUGAL >> 21