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GP Week : Issue 151
Schadenfreude aside, it’s never pleasant to watch an icon go rusty. Especially when it’s somebody almost universally liked as well as admired. But Jerez underlined a question mark that has been growing steadily for the last year and a bit. Has Rossi lost his mojo? For a second race, on a purpose-built bike that his team-mate Hayden put on the front row and contested the front positions, at least early in the race, Rossi was the last Ducati on the grid, and almost the last to finish. As we’ve seen before, he was able to pull out the stops in a last-laps battle to prevail, as he used to do just for the showmanship of it, back in the glory days. But that was for the lead over the best rivals of the day. This time it was for ninth, against relatively low-level Hector Barbera. Amazingly, as he had in the old days, he pronounced himself “quite satisfied” . His explanation was that he had finally made a major discovery: that he must stop trying to change to Ducati to his style, but instead follow the other Ducati riders and fit himself to the bike (see separate news story). The surprise is that it has taken so long. Rossi was second-fastest in one wet practice session. He hasn’t forgotten how to ride. But the discussion among his dismayed countrymen centres on the strength of his motivation. He’s as rich as Croesus, has won everything going, and has nothing left to prove. Maybe it really is the end, goes the chat. Only one person can prove it wrong. Rossi is the self-styled Doctor. In the scriptures he will find a telling phrase: “Physician, heal thyself.” DOCTOR, HEAL THYSELF 23 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> JEREZ