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GP Week : Issue 26
V 30 ALENTINO Rossi will soon become the most successful premier-class racer of all time. Victory at Misano, his sixth this year but his first at the circuit just over the hill from his Tavullia home, was his 68th in the top class, putting him equal with previous all-Italian legend Giacomo Agostini. ‘Ago’was at the track, but did not take part in any special celebration, as did Angel Nieto at Le Mans this year. But he might still have been as been as thrilled as the 51,157-strong crowd, many waving yellow banners, as they watched early leader Casey Stoner (Marlboro Ducati) succumb once again to Rossi’s steady pressure, to crash out for a second race in succession. Stoner seized a commanding lead from the first lap, but Rossi got to second on lap 2, and kept a three-second gap constant as the pair drew clear. Stoner’s seventh lap was his last. On the third right-hander of the reducing-radius three- corner set at the end of the back straight, in a carbon copy of his Brno crash, he spun off the track and out of the race. This time he was unable even to pick the bike up. It was only his second race crash in almost two years with Ducati. It was a near death blow to his chances of defending his championship. A second no- score against Rossi’s third win in a row put him 75 points behind, with five races left. Only the most extraordinary circumstances could turn that around. Rossi’s home win was really special. “I felt nervous before the race, because of so many people here: a lot of good friends, bad friends, far friends, a lot of family. Only my dog didn’t come,”he joked. “So it was difficult to keep concentration. But it was a positive energy.” When he got to second, “I saw that I had the same rhythm as Casey. I wasn’t catching him and I didn’t know if it was possible, like I knew it was at Brno. But it is a long race …” In a good day for Yamaha, his Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo came home a clear second, having disposed of fast starting Dani The all-Italian legends Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi