The Italian Job

news: The Italian Job

Motorbike racing was back in Jerez, Spain last Sunday with Valentino Rossi attempting to maintain the kind of superiority that has seen the Italian take the last four World Championships. Closest rivals Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri, Alex Barros and Max Biaggi had already indicated in pre-season testing that this would be no easy task overshadowing the ‘Doctor’ with record lap times. Prior to the race, Gibernau set the pace in free practice only to be beaten by Rossi for pole in the final qualifying session, the champion shaving a fraction of a second off the Spaniard’s time. Melandri and Hayden started in three and four. Over 100,000 spectators watched a gripping duel in which Gibernau enjoyed a good start leading for twenty-four of the twenty-seven laps. As the partisan crowd began celebrating, Rossi moved up in his rivals’ slipstream. Shoulder to shoulder in the last bend, Rossi edged his Yamaha ahead of the Honda to take the chequered flag with Melandri in third.

This season, which is the longest ever, featuring seventeen races over seven months as far afield as Japan, Qatar and Turkey, is promising to unfold into one of the most exciting in recent times. The Rossi-Gibernau rivalry should equal those in the past between Lawson/Gardner and Schwantz/Rainey amongst others.