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GP Week : Issue 43
J orge Lorenzo gave bike racing a shot in the arm on Sunday. His second GP win – a clear defeat of Fiat Yamaha team-mate Rossi – was an affirmation of MotoGP, and the culmination of 44 minutes of real hard racing, with some close contact and strong moves almost throughout. With the still-injured Dani Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda a fighting third and hitherto dominant Casey Stoner (Marlboro Ducati) battling bad brakes back in fourth, it revived hopes of a four -way championship. As with all classes, after qualifying was cancelled all were short of set-up time for the dry track. Rossi took a flier from pole, to head Chris Vermeulen’s Rizla Suzuki through the first U-turns. But Pedrosa, qualified only 11th, had come shooting off row four to third, and by the end of the lap Lorenzo was also ahead of Stoner, whose brake vibration problem was costly at a track of hard braking. The Spaniards went back and fourth as Rossi led by 1.4 seconds on lap two, then Lorenzo made it stick into the first corner, and started to peg his team leader back. Within five laps he was there. Rossi later admitted he’d run into a handling problem, and as he worked out how to ride around it Lorenzo passed him once on lap eight, only to be slammed straight back into place, then once again in a masterly braking move at the bottom of the hill. By now Vermeulen’s quick- shift was playing up, and he would drop back to tenth changing gear manually. At the same time, Dovizioso was closing on team-mate Pedrosa, though never quite close enough to challenge. Rossi hung on to Lorenzo for a few laps, then a slide lost him a second on the 14th. Now he 38 had his hands full with Pedrosa, riding with more aggression than anyone could remember. They changed places three times on lap 18, then Rossi was firmly back ahead. “I got my rhythm back, but then it was too late,”he said. He did catch Lorenzo somewhat, but the Spaniard had it under control. “He chased me very hard. I had to ride my best for the whole race,”he said, professing himself surprised by his second win in the class. He also gained a slender one-point lead over Rossi in the title. Stoner had prevailed over a wildly on-form Marco Melandri (Hayate Kawasaki), but only later in the race did he start to close on Dovizioso, now losing touch with Pedrosa. Stoner took him with three laps to spare – some damage limitation at least. Melandri and Suzuki’s Capirossi dropped away. Safely behind them; hot rookie Mika Kallio (Pramac Ducati) came through a big battle for eighth. He finally outpaced James Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha), who in turn fended off Vermeulen and de Puniet (LCR Honda). Gibernau had been battling with the Frenchman, but crashed out at the same spot where Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda) had tumbled earlier. Luckless American Nicky Hayden’s factory Duke was clobbered hard from behind on the first lap by an over- excited Takahashi (Scot Honda), leaving him writhing in the gravel once again, though not injured further. Colin Edwards was 12th after dropping to last. On the first lap he discovered his engine was set for a wet race and down on power. Fuming, he rode flat out anyway, passing de Angelis, Canepa and the remounted Elias by the end. With the European season a week away, the game is afoot. Digital Caption