Rossi Wins, Stoner Crashes…Again

Cycle News Staff | August 31, 2008

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi took a giant step towards clinching the 2008 MotoGP World Championship by winning his home grand prix in Misano Adriatico while title challenger Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) crashed out for the second race in a row. The win was historical. It put Rossi equal with fellow legend Giacomo Agostini with 68 wins in the premier class. It was also his third win in a row and sixth of the season and gives him a 75 point lead, 262 to 187, with five races to go. And it also vanquished the disappointment of last year, when the engine in his Yamaha M1 expired after three laps. Stoner’s day ended when he appeared to lose the front end while holding a three second lead on the eighth of 28 laps. He tried to pick up the fallen Ducati, but the handlebar was broken off and his day was done. When Rossi crossed the line ending the eighth lap he had 2.9 seconds on teammate Jorge Lorenzo. The gap remained constant and finished at 3.163 seconds. “Yes, I’m very excited,” Rossi, who lives about six miles from the track, said. “I mean, I feel nervous before the race because here in Misano I have a lot, a lot of people. All my friends, all my family, just my dog doesn’t come. So it’s difficult also keep the concentration. A lot of pressure on the paddock, always positive, but I feel quite nervous, because during the practice we’re struggling a lot with the setting and also last year was very bad, breaking the engine after three laps. but we fix the bike for the race. “Today the race pace was a little bit more slow because the temperature is very high. But anyway I make my best lap, I go in 34 (1:34), that was my target. Unfortunately, I lose some time with Dani (Pedrosa), because Dani overtake me in the start. But when I was able to pass in second position, I see that I have the same rhythm than Casey (Stoner). Casey push a lot but he don’t go far from me. Some laps I gain, one lap I lose, but you know, is a long race. I don’t know if it’s possible go to catch him. But, anyway, I was happy because my setting and when I see he slide away, I say, for the championship this is very positive for us because now is 75 points and this is the sixth victory of this year. “I have to push because (Jorge) Lorenzo doesn’t give up. But anyway, win here in Misano, this is my home grand prix and I feel like in Mugello, so I’m very happy, and that’s to all my guys, to all my team.” Lorenzo was happy to be back on the podium for the first time in months, since the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. He thought about winning after Stoner crashed, “but to follow Valentino (Rossi) was completely difficult and I had to take so many risks, so I prefer to finish second and to gain again the confidence that we didn’t have in the past, during these three months. So now I’m so happy for Yamaha, for Fiat, that we are again like Le Mans in the first two positions.” For the second race in a row Alice Team’s Toni Elias (Duc) finished on the podium, a performance that may have secured his MotoGP future. Elias battled with fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) after passing him on the eighth of 28 laps. The pair stuck together until about the 20th lap when Elias slipped away. “Yes, I’m really happy back to the podium,” Elias said. “We start in this circuit with difficult conditions, but big problems. But we found quickly good solutions. Yesterday for the first time I was in the second row and finally be on the podium is perfect.” As for 2009, He said, “I don’t know. For next year, I don’t know, I’m free. If somebody want to push for me, maybe we’ll see what I will choose.” Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen won the fight for fifth, a battle waged among four riders. Vermeulen, riding with a new chassis, passed Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland on the 21st lap. The Australian’s day almost ended before it began. He had a big rear tire slide in turn two on the first lap. “It was nearly all over. I smashed the fairing on the left side of my bike,” Vermeulen said. He added that he didn’t have the pace that he wanted, and was struggling in some areas, but was happy to get fifth place points. As to his future, Vermeulen said, “I’m very happy where I am. Things are getting close. Still some negotiations with Suzuki. I expect we’ll be able to make an announcement at the next race.” Toseland hung on for sixth, equaling his best MotoGP finish, despite what he described as the “biggest front end slide” of his life on the final lap. He finished with .616 secs. on the second Rizla Suzuki of Loris Capirossi. JiR Team Scot MotoGP’s Andrea Dovizioso was just behind Capirossi in eighth. Then a gap to Ducati Marlboro’s Marco Melandri, by himself, and with 3.36 secs. on Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards. The Texan’s engine sounded off-song from the beginning of the race. Next came Alice Team’s Sylvain Guintoli (Duc) and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Shinya Nakano, the Japanese rider fading after a promising start. The Kawasakis were last, Anthony West in front of the injured John Hopkins. Hopkins was said to be suffering from a muscle injury to his ribs, but paddock speculation centered on personal problems. Repsol Honda’s Nicky Honda withdrew from the race on Sunday morning with a lingering right heel injury suffered at the X Games four weeks ago. Hayden, who’s still on crutches, watched from the team pit box, his right foot in a soft cast. LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet crashed on the first lap. He’d also crashed out of last year’s San Marino Grand Prix. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis, the only resident of San Marino, crashed out on the third lap. De Angelis had run into the suddenly slowing Marco Melandri two corners prior to crashing. MotoGP: 1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 3. Toni Elias (Ducati) 4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 5. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 6. James Toseland (Yamaha) 7. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 8. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 9. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 10. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 11. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 12. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 13. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 14. John Hopkins (Kawasaki)