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GP Week : Issue 16
CASEY Stoner’s runaway win revived memories of his dominant performance last year – much to the discomfort of his rivals. But has the revival come too late for his championship hopes? Maybe so, given the mathematics. He is 45 points adrift of Rossi, and will need to beat him at pretty much every other race this year. A tough call. Then again, one non-finish for Rossi (or Pedrosa) could change that considerably. One thing is certain: Casey and the Duke are back. He dominated practice, qualifying and the race, wet or dry. Like last year, Stoner was setting the pace. “The whole weekend has been a big step forward for us. Now, when you push hard enough, the lap times come easier. The new engine management settings (found in post-Catalunya testing) make the bike much easier to run with,” he said, after the race. “Now we have to see if they will transfer to the other circuits.” Asked whether he was thinking of the championship, he said: “I’m not in a position to worry about it. It’s for the other two to worry.” And worry they will, in the weeks to come, if the Ducati revival continues. As Rossi said: “Casey is definitely not out of the game.” Stoner ran through the bad luck and problems that have spoiled his year so far. “At Jerez I ran off twice; in Portugal a TV box came loose on the bike; at Le Mans we had an engine failure.” The message was clear enough: without even one of these he would be by now very threatening. And even with them, he is very definitely back. Ominous return of the Red Shift 38