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GP Week : Issue 20
VALENTINO Rossi joked after qualifying that the only way to beat Stoner would be to start 30 seconds earlier, or (to a TV interviewer) to shoot him. More seriously, he spoke of how important it was to be with him on the front row. Stoner must not be given the chance to get away in the early laps, for he becomes very hard to catch. The race was the perfect illustration of the point, which Rossi has been making for a couple of races now. Without that early break, he was able to stay with the Ducati. And once he could stay with him, then he was able to give him a race. In fact, the qualifying score between them tilts only slightly in Stoner’s favour. Over 10 races, he has seven front row starts to Rossi’s six, though five poles against just one. But it’s being on the front row that matters. With Rossi having proved his point once, it is now up to Stoner to disprove it – because Rossi has also proved that if he’s close enough, he doesn’t need any weapons other than his persistence. And his elbows. Similar battles have gone Stoner’s way in the past … but they weren’t on equal tyres then. They are now. And the gloves are off. Ladies and gentlemen, please stand well back from the barriers. Has Rossi found the key to unlocking Stoner? M oto GP USA >> 39