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GP Week : Issue 53
>>Moto GPUSA Rossi’s ‘demonstration’ race MICHAEL SCott MotoGP Editor GIVEN everything he’s already achieved and continues to achieve in his day job, there could have been no better way for Valentino Rossi to demonstrate exactly who he is than at the Laguna kart race. It was one of those put-up jobs, for Yamaha to celebrate past and present success; four of their five premier-class World Champions from Kenny Roberts to Valentino Rossi (Agostini was missing) display-mounted in four Yamaha-powered karts. Roberts was a kart novice, Eddie Lawson a seasoned expert, Wayne Rainey a now- and-then play racer, on a kart adapted with hand controls. And Rossi, a former kart racer and still active play-about karter. The plan was for a bit of messing around, then a three-lap demo “race”, to terminate in all four crossing the line abreast, in a final irresistible all-Yamaha photo-opportunity. It started to go awry when, predictably enough, Kenny took the “messing around” bit too far. He spun, and the chain jumped the sprocket. The timing of this long pre-arranged set- piece needed to be preserved, and the resultant delay while they got the King going again meant the three-lap demo was cut to two. Never mind, everybody had the script – circulate in close company, then finish all together. What a collection of competitive instinct! Kenny Roberts the maverick who blew in to depose Barry Sheene in the 1970s, to pioneer a generation of talent. Steady Eddie Lawson, the merciless four-timer whose metronome regularity eventually helped undo Fast Freddie Spencer. Wayne Rainey, maybe the hardest-working champion ever, overcoming a frequent machine deficit and some high-class opposition by sheer determination. And Valentino Rossi. Guess which one broke ranks? They’d hardly gone a yard before Valentino took off. He said later that he’d been left behind, and needed to speed up just to catch up. And overtake. And go on ahead. From then on the other three were torn between duty and desire. And, you have to suspect, ability. Of any of them, Eddie could probably have hunted Rossi down. He’s a major- league kart race winner, at this track and others. You can draw your own conclusions from the fact that the finished a close fourth, while Rainey was also respectfully narrowly behind the King. Roberts had, after all, not only paved the way for both of them, but also later employed both riders during their title- winning years. All a bit of fun. But Rossi’s evident glee spoke volumes. “Now I can say I raced Roberts, Lawson and Rainey … and beat them,”he joked. Only he wasn’t joking, really. The only full-time active professional racer among them, he needed to be first among equals. Rossi was determined to win. Back in their day, all three of his erstwhile companions would probably have done the same. You wouldn’t want it any other way. Pos 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 MotoGP| round LAGunA SECA # Rider 3 46 99 27 69 24 5 7 14 Dani Pedrosa Valentino Rossi Jorge Lorenzo Casey Stoner Nicky Hayden Toni Elias Colin Edwards Chris Vermeulen Randy de Puniet 33 Marco Melandri 15 88 DNF 4 DNF 59 DNF 65 DNF 41 EXC 52 Alex de Angelis Niccolo Canepa Andrea Dovizioso Sete Gibernau Loris Capirossi Gabor Talmacsi James Toseland Team Repsol Honda Team Fiat Yamaha Team Fiat Yamaha Team Ducati Team Ducati Team San Carlo Honda Gresini Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Rizla Suzuki MotoGP LCR Honda MotoGP Hayate Racing Team San Carlo Honda Gresini Pramac Racing Repsol Honda Team Grupo Francisco Hernando Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Scot Racing Team MotoGP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Time 44:01.580s +0.344s +1.926s +12.432s +21.663s +22.041s +30.201s +32.857s +40.325s +48.028s +48.810s +1:18.531s +26 Laps +26 Laps +29 Laps +29 Laps Points – MotoGP: Rossi 151, Lorenzo 142, Stoner 135, Pedrosa 92, Edwards 76, Dovizioso 69, Vermeulen 61, Melandri 61, de Puniet 58, Capirossi 56. 2 opinion