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GP Week : Issue 44
dropped to fourth on times, and insisted that he would not be able to win. That was before he and his team spent an hour or two studying the data, and raised the ride height of his Fiat Yamaha to get more weight transfer. Then he led morning warm-up, raised the bike a little bit more, and went racing. For the early laps it was all O 24 Dani Pedrosa, to the delight of a crowd that looked smaller than almost any in Jerez’s 23-year history, but was claimed to be more than 120,000. In strong contrast to the preceding two races, there was bright sunshine and 27-degree temperatures as the Repsol N Friday, Valentino Rossi was unbeatable. On Saturday, he Honda rider took his usual blazing start, followed by Stoner and Lorenzo. Pedrosa led by almost 1.5s by the time Rossi had made his way past team-mate and pole qualifier Jorge Lorenzo, and then traded blows with Casey Stoner (Marlboro Ducati) for a couple of laps before breaking free on the seventh. The gap fluctuated for a while, but by half distance Rossi was clearly closing, and on the 18th he moved past underneath the 2008 Jerez winner at Angel Nieto corner. He was never headed again, and finally finished 2.7s clear. After the race he reprised an old post-race pantomime … stopping the bike and running to a marshal-post lavatory. “That was my best joke, and it was 10 years ago,”Rossi said. “So to win again at Jerez 10 years later, I thought it was time to do it again. “I had fun battling with Casey, but catching Dani was the hardest part. He was more than a second ahead, and I know he can be very hard to catch. But in the last 10 laps my pace improved.” His first win of the year gave him the lead on points. Pedrosa, still far from fully fit, was delighted with second. “I still cannot believe I made this,”he said. “Now I want to get this bike improved and go faster. We have come back from a very difficult position.” For Stoner, it was a first rostrum at the Spanish track, where he has struggled in the past. “I knew the podium was a long shot, but I wanted to get away with the leaders,”he said. “In the past I’ve been knocked about a bit in the pack here.” He’d settled for third, only for Lorenzo to start closing, and he had to push again. The Spaniard was within eight tenths and about to challenge with four laps to go when he slid to earth at Angel Nieto corner, remounting only to retire, missing a footrest. This promoted Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) to a worthy fourth; the Frenchman alone for most of the race. He had been sixth until lap seven, when Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) ran off ahead of him and dropped to the back. Marco Melandri won a stirring battle for fifth, the Hayate