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GP Week : Issue 80
his team-mate, passing quite easily on lap 22, but was still two seconds adrift of the leader. It was then that a dull race became breathtaking. On the next lap, he cut the lead by half a second, and by a bit less next time round. But the dog could see the rabbit clearly, and he closed inexorably to start nibbling away on the penultimate lap. Pedrosa had been complaining all weekend of handling problems with his Honda, and now his veracity was finally put to the test. He had been right. Try as he might, and he certainly did, he wasn't capable of holding the determined Lorenzo at bay. The pass came at Dry Sack hairpin at the end of the back straight. Lorenzo was almost struck dumb after the race: "Now I can't think or speak too much," he said. "I rode at the limit, and this effort gave me the win." Dani was gracious in defeat. "I didn't expect to be in the lead, and I didn't expect to keep ahead for all the race," he said. He had drawn clear of Rossi, "then I saw from my board that Lorenzo was half-a-second quicker than both of us. I thought: 'This is going to be tight.' Anyway, second is better than I expected before the weekend." Rossi was satisfied with third. "I knew it was not our race. Pain was not the problem, but my shoulder lacked power, and we had problems with setting in practice. I was not at 100 percent." All the same he stayed close after Lorenzo went by, hoping either that the pair might take each other out, or that he might get second off Pedrosa. A little slip on the penultimate lap cost him the chance, he said later. He was less than half-a-second behind Pedrosa at the end, the first three covered by 0.890 of a second. Nicky Hayden beat his illustrious Marlboro Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner for a second race in succession, running third in the early stages and finishing up fourth, still a second ahead of Stoner, who mounted an attack at the end only to have a big moment on the final hairpin. Stoner in turn had held off second Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso for most of the race, the Italian dropping away in the closing stages. A to-and-fro battle for seventh raged from start to finish, won by Mika Kallio (Pramac Ducati) from Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda), Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), rookie Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista, Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda) and Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha). Loris Capirossi was an early departure, crashing the Rizla Suzuki on the third lap; Ben Spies followed up his strong start in Qatar with a downbeat retirement, dropping to the back after finishing lap one sixth, and pulling into the pits with a suspected front tyre problem. 22