Rossi makes brave return


Crash takes out de Puniet, Bautista, and Espargaro.

six weeks after breaking both bones in his right leg, one of them a
compound-out-of-the-skin fracture, the legendary Valentino Rossi
returned to action at the Sachsenring in Germany last week and not
only managed to qualify and finish, but was in a hot and heavy battle
with Ducati’s Casey Stoner for the third podium spot, only losing it
in the last corner of the last lap.

that’s an impressive return to action.

race win went to Dani Pedrosa, with championship leader Jorge Lorenzo
trailing in a safe second. The race was run in two parts, as a big
crash involving Randy de Puniet, Aleix Espargaro, and Alvaro Bautista
brought out the red flags; de Puniet ended up with an injury much
like Rossi’s, breaking both bones in his lower leg.

the Stoner and Rossi battle, Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, Gresini
Honda’s Marco Simoncelli, and Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden were
brawling over fifth. Hayden had made a brilliant race after a
terrible qualifying session, charging from 15th
starting position to scramble behind the leaders; he was in fifth
when he nearly lost the front end entering the awesome "Waterfall"
corner, then on the last lap the bike jumped out of gear for a second
and he was unable to attack Dovi or Simoncelli. "On
paper seventh place doesn’t look like a great result but after
qualifying 15th
yesterday actually it’s
not so bad," said the philosophical American.

is that Roger Lee Hayden, youngest of the Hayden brothers who’s
beating his head against the wall on an uncompetitive World Superbike
Kawasaki this year, has been drafted in to replace de Puniet at the
Laguna Seca Moto GP round. It makes sense; he has a good relationship
with American Honda, knows Laguna well, and in fact finished 10th
there in a wild card Moto GP appearance for Kawasaki in 2007. The
field needs him, or someone like him; with only 16 starters in
Germany, and the possibility of losing two more if de Puniet’s ride
isn’t filled (Espargaro may not be able to ride at Laguna either,
pending further medical checks, and the team’s already said they
won’t field a replacement rider if that happens) the already-sparse
Moto GP grid is starting to look pretty empty. For sure everyone’s
looking forward to the planned changes to allow two classes of 1,000
cc bikes to join the grid in 2012.

after eight of 18 races

Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Fiat Yamaha, 185 points; 2. Dani Pedrosa,
Spain, Repsol Honda, 138; 3. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Repsol Honda,
102; 4. Casey Stoner, Australia, Marlboro Ducati, 83; 5. Nicky
Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 78;

Valentino Rossi, Italy, Fiat Yamaha, 74; 7. Randy de Punet, France,
69; 8. Ben Spies, U.S.A., Tech 3 Yamaha, 67; 9. Marco Simoncelli,
Italy, Gresini San Carlo Honda, 49; 10. Marco Melandri, Italy,
Gresini San Carlo Honda, 45.

Next race, U.S. Grand Prix, Laguna
Seca, July 25.

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