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GP Week : Issue 7
GPWEEK OPINION >> CAN anyone stop Spain winning a second top-class World Championship this year? The question is important to the nation that runs MotoGP. They’ve only had the one winner, Alex Criville, and that was last century. They’re very hungry for another. That’s what’s driving the fevered speculation rippling round the paddock late Sunday night in Portugal. Because that is how it looks, three races in to the second 800cc season. On the down side, we have Rossi on the back foot, wondering out loud if he’s made a blunder by dumping Michelin in favour of Bridgestone. And we have Stoner battling bravely against a seeming sea of Ducati problems that have the other Desmosedici riders down there with the back markers (I note that his first- race runaway win is regarded as “an aberration” in some quarters.) On the up, we have Lorenzo and Pedrosa. The former has three poles in three races, and three rostrum finishes, culminating in his win at Estoril. This in spite of being a rank rookie, still supposedly learning how to get the best from his new 800cc Yamaha; and furthermore suffering from a case of Racers’ Wrist so bad it required surgery after the last race. Pedrosa, likewise, has a full set of rostrums and one win – in spite of riding a Honda that is an update of last year’s bike, rather than the all-singing all- dancing pneumatic-valve-spring engine, beset by repeated delays. Of course, both Rossi and Stoner have the potential to improve. But so do the two Spanish kids. Tempting though this sort of speculation is, it’s time to remember that there are only three races gone of an 18-race season; way too soon to be drawing conclusions. All the same, round four in China, prelude to a solid run of European races, is going to be highly significant – if Rossi and Stoner don’t reassert their authority there, it’s not going to get any easier later on. NOT QUITE ALL OVER YET Michael Scott MotoGP editor o p in io n 21