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GP Week : Issue 52
the Centurions “GIACOMO Agostini is the greatest.” Thus spake Valentino, on the day that he scored his 100th grand prix victory, “because he has 122 wins, and I have only 100.” The Italian stars are the only two centurions in World Championship history. And Rossi did not rule out that he might stay on in bikes long enough to reverse the order. “It depends if I stay on some more after next year,”he said. “If you asked me now, I am ready to race for two or three more years … but we will see.” Valentino wouldn’t fall into the trap of direct comparison, but did discount that Ago had an advantage because he frequently won more than one GP in a weekend, racing in both 350 and 500 classes: stoner’s mystery illness CASEY Stoner was close to collapse at the end of the Catalunyan GP. “It wasn’t only the stomach cramps – I felt destroyed,”he repeated at Assen. Happily enough, because while he was no closer to understanding what had struck him low, he promised that by now he was fully recovered and felt fine. He was wrong. He finished the Dutch TT also dropping back in third, and in a similar condition. He had to leave parc ferme to sit down, made it to rostrum, but not the post-race TV or press conferences. “He has gone to the medical centre and they put him on a drip,” said team boss Livio Suppo, adding he would not be speaking to the Press at all. It reminded old-timers of Barry Sheene, who complained of a mysterious and debilitating virus in 1978, the year Kenny Roberts turned up and stole his 500 crown for the first of three straight years. Trouble was, back then, nobody believed him. Things might be different now. Nobody thought Casey was faking. And, for the sake of the championship, everyone hopes he gets well soon. 30 125: Last lap mayhem! THE first race of the day finished in a cliff-hanger, after the two fighting for the lead both ran off the track in a last-lap incident later investigated by Race Control. It handed victory to the third man of the group – Sergio Gadea. But he had to go against team orders to do it. Gadea, Bancaja Aspar team- mate Julian Simon and J&J Aprilia rider Nico Terol had been together all race long, breaking away from the lead group before half distance and gaining a comfortable gap. As they started the last lap, Bancaja team principal Jorge ‘Aspar’Martinez hung out a pit board: SIMON FIRST. Gadea was ready to comply, but Terol not so, and it came to a head at the end of the back straight. Terol took the lead but was too fast, and took to the escape road; Simon, almost alongside and also at the limit, was also forced wide. Gadea had little choice but to take full benefit, nipping through to take his first win of the season from Terol by 0.078 of a second. Simon was almost a second down, happy not to have crashed, and declining to blame Terol. “So in a way he had more races, but in another way there were much fewer GPs every year than now, so it is more equal.” Ago’s total in 123 wins, but that includes one in F750. “That is like Superbike, so doesn’t count,”said Rossi. “Ago says 123 wins, but he also says he is 55 years old,”he grinned. “get off m CASEY Stoner has a long- standing reputation for intolerance when it comes to finding other riders sharing the same race-track. We used to smile back in 2006, at his practice and qualifying session gestures at other riders, thinking the class rookie may be fast, but might be behaving a bit too much as though he owned the joint. When it happened again to him at Assen, and he sparked up again, it was difficult not to feel some sympathy. It had happened to him several times that day, most irritatingly when he was on a fast lap that might easily have lifted him from the second to the first row of the grid. He missed the front row for the first time