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GP Week : Issue 81
GPWEEK OPINION >> ore Than Good Enough second stint I tried to pass two battling back makers who moved over and pitched me into a spin. But I recovered. Will managed to pick a fight with FOM cameraman Jean-Michel Tibi, who was driving like an animal and put Buxton in the wall. Fortunately the kart's steering wasn't damaged. The pair, who work together, hugged each other afterwards which surprised me -- because I thought Buxton was going to go for his neck. I recall last year, after an unfair penalty, Buxton smashed his helmet on the ground. Further down the field the atmosphere was equally competitive, with BBC Five Live delighted to be ahead of BBC TV (which included Jake Humphrey) and the Italian team getting very animated during their disorganized pitstops. I set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, Kimi-style. We took the chequered flag 50 seconds ahead of the photographers. I only brought one pair of trousers with me -- Rookie error, because I still stink of champagne today. We're looking forward to our dinner on Thursday. The irony is it's a 2 star 'Michelin'meal. But thanks ever so much to Bridgestone for this, and for every year they've organized the race. ampions voyeur", after one too many times of him taking a spectator's role while Rossi and Stoner battled it out close ahead. Dani affected to ignore the criticism, but it must have bugged him. Especially when he saw his popularity eclipsed by rising new star Lorenzo, for whom performing for publicity is as much part of winning as actually riding the bike. When he arrived at Jerez, and even after he had qualified on pole, Dani was in full morose mode. He'd been complaining increasingly over the preceding weeks about his Honda's horrible handling. HRC staff in their neat short-sleeved uniforms could only look on glumly as he went on and on about the bike "moving and shaking all the time". None of this helped his reputation. With junior team-mate Dovizioso beating him at Qatar, people were starting to question whether Dani still had the right to be included in the elevated ranks that Capirossi has dubbed "the Aliens". At Jerez, the little feller swept away all that doubt. His race performance was remarkable enough. One could see clearly from the TV that his bike was indeed pretty darned jumpy, but all the same he was pulling away from the best of the rest. The real revelation was to come, when Lorenzo closed rapidly on the Honda. Would Dani roll over and let him by? Oh no. He defended both vigorously and aggressively. At maximum risk, he fended off a round-the-outside attack with steadfast commitment. It was an object lesson in fighting back a faster opponent. I reckon that's what made Dani break into a grin even he could not suppress. He'd proved what he already knew inside, that the doubters were wrong. But will one race, one second place, be enough to redeem Dani? Finding out adds another dimension to a MotoGP season that is shaping up to become fascinating. Pace-setter: AH-N at speed (above) and below, with his triumphant team-mates. The quartet are now headed for a slap-up dinner in Monaco. Messrs Webber, Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Co need not be overly concerned ... 23