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GP Week : Issue 105
GPWEEK OPINION >> Better almost late than never FirstLosertakesall points to 197. For all three, there is still everything to race for. Rossi has an even more important agenda: these are his last two races with the factory that for the six previous years was his boon companion. They split over the course of the seventh because Yamaha cosied up to Lorenzo. Then his usurper of the factory’s affections won the title. When they clashed at Motegi, Rossi produced some epic aggression to come out on top. There are two more matches with his rival on an identical motorcycle. Valentino will want to use each of them to beat up Lorenzo again. This is no less important the other way around. Lorenzo was riding under the yoke of the championship at Motegi, and still produced a spirited display, though stopping short of the forcefulness that earned him a one-race suspension in 250 days. Directly afterwards, however, he promised in future he would respond to fierce tactics in kind. His superlative season (only two crashes, remember, as well as that string of rostrums) has in many ways been overshadowed by Valentino, particularly at the last races. Jorge will be burning to put the shoe back on the other foot. Stoner is involved in everything, too. After an indifferent first half-season he is now closing his Ducati account in blazing style. Three wins in the last four races. And a crash in the other one. That’s Casey; and on his present form he has to be a serious candidate for two more wins. Dani is in his sights, and he won’t be giving much room to anyone who gets in his way. Motorcycle racing is often just a series of incidents, interspersed with patches where not much happens. As the season has worn on, however, an interplay of increasing underlying tension has meant that even incident-free races are larded with extra meaning. No anticlimaxes here, thanks. lured by free tickets, they say 60,000 spectators came. Bernie expressed his relief that despite being two months behind schedule, the circuit had drafted 1500 workers to get the circuit 99 percent complete in time. There were some teething problems – media shuttles that never turned up, a lack of cranes in Sector 3 to remove crashed cars, traffic jams, unreliable internet and overflowing toilets – but for the most part I think Korea can be praised for getting the main bits right. For circuit bosses and promoters, the most important thing is to keep Mr E happy, and the 79 year- old was doubtless pleased that his chauffeured S-Class has no need for a proper number plate – it just read 'Mr Ecclestone'. The Koreans were great hosts and I’m sure with less frenzied preparation we’ll have very little to complain about next year. And it’s not every race where the country’s prime minister attends and shakes everyone’s hand. Not just Bernie and the drivers – everyone! Newly elected Kim Hwang-Sik came to the media centre and pressed flesh with every journo and photographer. With a charm offensive like that, one doesn’t want to knock South Korea. Even if most of its hotels charge by the hour. A-listers: Korean PM Kim Hwang-Sik gets to meet Adam Hay-Nicholls! 23