Tuesday, May 05, 2009

MotoGP Jerez: Rossi Rules

Valentino Rossi returned to form with victory at the Jerez round of the MotoGP championship. It was Repsol Honda's miniature matador Dani Pedrosa who led for the first half of the race, while Rossi tangled with Casey Stoner for 2nd place. Once he had dispatched the Aussie, The Doctor hunted down his tiny rival and won the race convincingly.

It was all smiles on the podium, which is incredible when you consider that Pedrosa (2nd) and Stoner (3rd) were up there. However, Dani was relieved to be going so damn quickly with his still-healing injuries, and Stoner was just amazed that he managed to wrestle his Ducati round the track and take a podium. The Bologna Bullet is ill-suited to Jerez, as it doesn't go around corners very well and prefers long straights.

Rossi even celebrated the win with a replay of one of his classic victory gags: parking his bike against a barrier and nipping into a trackside toilet.

The fourth of the usual suspects, Jorge Lorenzo, had taken a blistering pole position, but was left muttering excuses after racing slowly and falling off while challenging Stoner for 3rd. It was a severely bad day for the only rider who would make you write to Roget's and demand that their thesaurus be updated with more synonyms for "cocky".

Promoted to 4th by Jorge's hop-off was, incredibly, Randy de Puniet. The Frenchman, who is best known for leaving piles of gravel when he takes his boots off in the pit garage, was brilliant as he took the coveted "next Honda home after Pedrosa" spot on his reasonably awful privateer bike. Maybe the Playboy bunnies provided by his Playboy LCR Honda sponsors helped.

Next home was another incredible ride from Marco Melandri on the Hayate Kawasaki. Two of the worst bikes on the grid finishing 4th and 5th, with only one person crashing in front of them. Marco lived up to his nickname, "Macho", by battling all race long with Capirossi and Edwards.

Compared to the heroics of the Randy and Marco show, everyone behind them looked pretty rubbish. Worst of all was Nicky Hayden, who has confirmed that the second factory Ducati bike is cursed by finishing about a year behind his team-mate. Only Stoner can ride that bike. Mika Kallio's pretty good on the privateer version, though.

It was a crushing display of dominance from Rossi to win the race, with Pedrosa and Stoner punching well above their weight (presumably flyweight or bantamweight or something), having no right to lap as quickly as they did. A half-decent race for MotoGP, with some heroics thrown in. Here's hoping this season keeps going in the right direction.

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