The Valentino Rossi holding court today was a totally different person from the jaded, defeated rider we saw after Le Mans. He ripped into the opposition today and try as Jorge Lorenzo did at the end of the session, he couldn’t get within a third of a second of him.
The really impressive thing was that Rossi set his time early in the session as he tried three (JB) or four (VR) different set ups to make life easier on his shoulder. The injury is better again and at least he can now tuck down behind the fairing properly, which he couldn’t do in France. He is nevertheless worried about the race and claims to be braking 15-20 metres earlier for turn one and the Biondetti chicane–although that might only have to happen late in the race.
Casey Stoner did try the 42mm forks from last year but crashed when the brake pads got knocked back after a tank slapper. He only did a couple of laps on them and found them harsh but likes the quicker rebound. He has complained that when the front tucks he can hold it up on his knee like normal but the bike won’t be forced back up onto its wheels. Nicky Hayden isn’t much happier, he expected to be closer today but the bike isn’t soaking up the bumps and he;s “having to go around them. Not ideal at this track.” Will he try the ’09 forks? “We’re not that desperate yet.” He is using the pre-Estoril fairing which is making the bike ultra-stable through the flat-out kink in the front straight and over the 200mph hump before turn one.
I can’t end without a comment on Rossi’s Mohican. Look, it’s terrible but he has had a “long time ambition” to have one and this was his chance. Is Daniel Day-Lewis due on race day? (He has been seen at the races more than once). Unfortunately not, but this says Valentino “Is a haircut for a battle.”
The question is, who gets to play Magwa?