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GP Week : Issue 33
championship and then not bother to turn up to the remaining races. Times, and the riders, B are different now. Rossi could have made an afternoon’s stroll of the Malaysian GP. That would have meant letting Dani Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda run away with it, after another of the little guy’s jack-rabbit starts. But for Fiat Yamaha’s new World Champion, that would have been even more intolerable than the gruelling 40-degree heat and exhausting humidity. Weather again interfered with the meeting and, as a result final qualifying had been compressed into a mere 15 dry minutes. Pedrosa had snatched pole from Rossi in the dying gasp, and took off in the lead, the pursuit led by Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda). Rossi was up to second on lap 2, and spent the next eight leaning on the Spaniard as they pulled away. Would he 38 ACK in the days of Barry Sheene, one of Rossi’s heroes, he would win the wait until the end to pounce? No. He outbraked his rival early on lap 11, and from there moved steadily away to a ninth win of the year. “I was prepared, because we worked very hard at this track with Bridgestone in the winter,”said Rossi. “I promised my tyre man Peter we would win the Grand Prix. This track is very good for the Yamaha, and the types of corner also suit my riding style. “I wanted to attack Dani before, but he was very fast exiting from the slow corner (the hairpin that ends the 5.548-km lap).” But Pedrosa, still limping from his lap 1 fall in Australia, knew it was inevitable. “I could feel that he was quite comfortable behind me. I slowed the rhythm a bit, and he came past. Then he could keep the rhythm, and I couldn’t. But I’m very happy. We went from not so good to almost winning.” The battle for third was an epic, with Dovizioso holding the position every time across the line. Inches behind, Hayden tried everything to get his pneumatic- valve-spring Repsol factory bike past the Italian’s satellite Scot Honda. His greatest efforts came on lap 18, but every time he forced past Dovi fought straight back. He took his first rostrum in the class by three tenths from the glum American. Nearing half distance, the pair had plenty of company. Casey Stoner (Marlboro Ducati) was on Hayden’s back wheel along with an on-form Shinya Nakano (San Carlos Honda) and second Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, with Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) only now losing ground slightly. Lorenzo had overtaken Nakano on lap 11, only to slip off at low speed on the first hairpin. The Japanese rider stayed close and passed a fading Stoner on lap 16, to finish fifth. His debilitating wrist problem left him contemplating early retirement, saying later he was “absolutely rooted.” Stoner was three seconds adrift at the end, Capirossi a similar distance behind, and then Edwards. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) reclaimed ninth from Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) with three laps left. The Kawasakis took the next two positions, Anthony West a long way behind Hopkins, after stunning the paddock by setting fastest time in free practice. Sylvain Guintoli (Alice Ducati) came past Alex de Angelis (San Carlos Honda) for 13th; his team-mate Toni