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GP Week : Issue 36
Top five MotoGP riders of 2008 #1 – Valentino Rossi – Yamaha WINNER takes all. Rossi came into 2008 on the back of two title losses and on brand new Bridgestone tyres. After a slow(ish) start, he won the fourth race in China, and the next two. But he had a disaster at round nine at Assen (a first- corners tumble dropped him to 11th), and it wasn’t until the 10th round that he took the points lead for the first time from Dani Pedrosa, who had ruined his own charge with a heavy crash at that German GP. But it still wasn’t plain sailing. By now defender Stoner, also a bit off at the start of the season, was starting to come on strong on the red Desmosedici Ducati. Rossi told his crew chief Burgess: “I don’t want to lose this title,” something he’d never said before. And for the second half of the year he went up a gear. He forced the pace so hard that Stoner crashed at the next three rounds. Valentino kept on winning after that, nine races altogether, even when he didn’t have to any more. Rossi turns 30 next year, and is racing as hard as ever. It’s his continued determination that puts him right at the top of the tree. His skill, race-craft, bravery, cunning and concentration by now we take for granted. Still the best of the best. 50