Rossi on a streak


Rossi leads Stoner, Pedrosa. Inset: Rossi’s new helmet

"It’s a great feeling, like always!" said Valentino Rossi, who’s definitely back on top of the Moto GP world again. His third consecutive victory of the 2008 season in front of 96,000 hysterical Italian fans, plus his seventh straight Moto GP win at Mugello (in addition to 125 and 250 victories), certainly made this one something special.

Rossi got his Fiat Yamaha off to a better-than-usual start, chased Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa for four laps, then got past and checked out. He didn’t vanish into the distance, but built up a solid lead of about three seconds that stayed pretty constant to the end.

Stoner and Pedrosa had fun banging fairings for 2/3 of the race, when Stoner seemed to catch his second wind and edged away; the two riders finished in that order.


Alex de Angelis: promising performance

Fourth went to Alex de Angelis on the San Carlo Gresini Honda; de Angelis has been a bit of the forgotten man of the four hot-shot rookies in Moto GP this year, but his ride on Sunday was by far the most impressive of anyone’s. He got a horrible start and was last into the first corner, then suddenly got hit with divine inspiration or something and simply charged completely through the field, nearly catching Pedrosa for third by the end. It was an inspired ride.

Best racing of the day was in the next group, which stayed in full head-banging mode nearly to the flag, with Colin Edwards leading Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate James Toseland, Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi close behind, and Andrea Dovizioso on the JiR Scot Team Honda in the draft. Great stuff.

Big disappointments went to crashers John Hopkins, Randy de Puniet, Marco Melandri, and Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo. Hopkins had the scariest off, when his Kawasaki shifter acted up at the end of the 330 km/h front straight – he was very, very lucky to get off unscathed. Melandri was probably the most miserable of the four; he finally seemed to have figured out something about riding the Ducati and was knocked off when de Puniet crashed in front of him.

Rossi now leads Pedrosa and Lorenzo in the championship, with the next race just a week away in Barcelona. Anyone who wants to bet against a confident and happy Rossi taking yet another world title is going to have a hard time finding a bookie.

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