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GP Week : Issue 14
C ASEY Stoner had the high ground in practice and qualifying, but nobody was on the same level as Dani Pedrosa on Sunday, as the Repsol Honda rider flew to his second win of the season, and his first in the class at his home circuit of Catalunya. “I don’t know where the pace came from,” he said afterwards; and nor did his rivals. Dani had taken his customary fast start, and then stretched away as pole starter Stoner’s Marlboro Ducati held up the pursuit. Dani set a new lap record on only the second lap, was five seconds clear by the eighth, and from then on could win at his ease, after switching settings overnight and clearly finding the golden key. Stoner was having problems from lap one, with trouble getting the red bike to turn in at the tight left-hand fifth corner: “We had no rear feeling, especially into corners with heavy braking,” he explained. There was one rider who might have challenged Pedrosa, but Rossi denied himself the chance by qualifying ninth, on the third row. Dressed in Italian football strip on a blue and white Fiat Yamaha, he showed his class as he picked his way firmly forward from eighth on lap one. Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Hayden (Repsol Honda) took until lap five, then de Puniet (LCR Honda). Then it was Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha), and Rossi joined battle with Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot Honda), disputing an increasingly distant second. Rossi took Stoner under brakes for the first time on lap nine, and with Pedrosa already 6.7 seconds away, the fight for second became of the focus of the race. Dovizioso stayed close for the next 10 laps or so, but it was a two-man affair, and a replay of last year at the same track: Rossi versus Stoner. The action was close and clean, and the outcome in doubt to the finish. But the 40