Saturday, April 08, 2006
Valentino Rossi won his first race for six months today (Phillip Island last year) but he had to work to do it. Casey Stoner forced the pace off pole early on and Nicky Hayden kept The Doctor honest in the closing stages.
Actually, he did a lot more than that and indulged in a bout of passing and repassing at successive corners with Rossi before getting him again three laps from the flag. That was a cue for Rossi’s final effort, he re-passed Nicky and wasn’t headed again despite a final charge from the Kentuckian that got him right on Rossi’s rear wheel going into the last lap. A slide too far in the final left of the last lap meant Nicky wasn’t quite within range to get back at the Doctor.
Whatever was wrong with the Camel Yamaha, Rossi rode round them. The next Yamaha was Colin Edwards in ninth place, 23 seconds back of his team mate. The Doctor said he didn’t run into chatter when the tire wore as he’d expected, so yet again kudos goes to Jerry Burgess and the Camel crew for making Valentino’s job easier than it might have been.
Valentino almost seemed more pleased with his fastest lap of the race than the win because ‘this shows how well my M1 was working.’
Perhaps the people with most reason to be happy were Bridgestone. Their tires brought the Ducatis home in third and fourth at a track where they’d been an embarrassing 30 seconds behind the winner six months ago. The corporate view was that this result was of more significance than the win in Jerez as, along with Donington, Qatar is their worst track.
If you were looking for a depressed pit, try Suzuki. Thirteen engine failures over the weekend culminated in both bikes throwing their coolant over following riders. John Hopkins, the victim of the majority of the failures was seen on TV giving his bike a good kicking then throwing himself on the ground before getting to give his defenseless GSV a bit more shoe (as they say in South London).
Dunlop, on the other hand, having received a public slagging from Luis d’Antin after qualifying saw their lead man Carlos Checa lapping at the same speed a Colin Edwards in the closing stages. Checa’s team were impressed as he was riding with a pinched nerve in his shoulder and while he could ride he would have been unable to wrench the bike about in a dice.
Tech 3’s other rider, rookie James Ellison, even managed to pass Tamada (Honda V5, Michelins) to give the French team something to smile about.
This win took Rossi to a total of 54 wins in the top class, level with Mick Doohan.
Only Ago to go, then.