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GP Week : Issue 31
GP winners Wayne Gardner (twice) and Mick Doohan (thrice), the Marlboro Ducati rider humbled the opposition and led from the first lap to last. A big proportion of the C 32 50,541-strong Phillip Island crowd invaded the circuit afterwards to pay tribute. Many of them, however, may have been cheering as loudly for Valentino Rossi, after the Fiat Yamaha rider bounced ASEY Stoner did his countrymen proud. In the tradition of previous home back from a heavy crash in qualifying, and a lowly fourth-row starting position. Already World Champion, he nonetheless hunted down Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden, and snatched second place from the American on the last of 27 laps of the fast, scenic and spectacular 4.448- km seaside circuit. There was an even fiercer battle for fourth, resolved at Honda Hairpin on the final lap. Ex-Superbike champion James Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha) had the race of his season, tussling successfully with Rossi in the early stages, and then controlling a high-quality trio – Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha), Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda) and Shinya Nakano (San Carlos Honda) almost to the end. By the finish Lorenzo had taken to the front of the group, and Toseland was desperately trying to get back ahead of Dovizioso at Honda Hairpin. His forceful line pushed both of them wide, much to the Italian’s dismay. It let Nakano through to fifth, with Toseland and Dovizioso following closely. An exciting race hardly felt the absence of factory Repsol Honda tyre renegade Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard had a little slide going into the second corner after the start, the long left-handed Southern Loop. He ran off onto the grass, where he promptly went flying. Stoner’s victory came after he too had taken a tumble in practice, and battled to find bike setting to suit the Duke, at 330.1 km/h the fastest bike down the straight. Even so, he qualified on pole. “Knowing the record of this track, there’s normally a big battle, so I tried to get away from the start. I was setting