“I didn't want to give up and just ride for 2nd”
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi fought a race-long battle with Casey Stoner during the Grand Prix of China today, the pair providing a thrilling spectacle until the 16th lap when Rossi was forced to concede victory
to the Australian after a small mistake.
Despite starting from the front row alongside pole-sitter Rossi, Colin Edwards had a less successful day as he suffered tyre problems from the start and dropped steadily down the order, eventually finishing a disappointing 11th.
John Hopkins took the lead into turn one but Rossi passed him on the first lap to cross the line in front. Edwards however had already slipped down to sixth and was unable to make up anymore ground from then on. By lap three Rossi had dropped behind both Stoner and Marco Melandri but before long Rossi had despatched his fellow countryman and set off after Stoner, eliciting a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse which kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Rossi's M1 worked perfectly throughout and the Italian was never more than a few tenths down on Stoner, exploiting the agility and corner speed of his Yamaha in the earlier sections to close the gap and often pass Stoner, but relinquishing ground down the long back straight where the Ducati had the advantage.
The pair kept up a blistering pace and only Hopkins could stay with them, closing the gap to half a second at one point in pursuit of his first podium. With seven laps to go and Rossi doing everything in his powers to find a way to make a pass stick on Stoner, the Yamaha rider made a mistake braking into the hairpin at the end of the back straight and ran off the track, letting Hopkins through. Rossi kept fighting and was able to pass the American back again to consolidate second place, but Stoner was too far ahead and took the flag three seconds in front. Edwards, meanwhile, had a difficult race as his package failed to work today and he was unable to use the potential of his Yamaha, crossing the line 35 seconds behind the winner.
Valentino Rossi :
"I enjoyed today a lot, it was a great race, a really exciting battle and my Yamaha was fantastic to the end. We knew that this track would be difficult for us so to be able to fight with Stoner at 100% for the entire race was a great feeling. Of course it's not a win, but I think second place is a very good result for us here. I didn't want to give up and just ride for second, I wanted to try to pass him and I made some good overtaking manoeuvres but wasn't able to stay in front down the straight. Then I made a mistake when I hit a bump when braking, had to release the brake and ran off track. It was a pity, but when you're riding on the limit lap after lap then things like this can happen; that's racing! Anyway I knew I couldn't give up, I had a nice battle with John and then was able to take second. I t hink these twenty points are really important and we're still second in the championship. I'm really more sad for what happened in Turkey because if we hadn't had the problem there then I might have been level with Stoner in the championship now. But the season is long and now we have several races in Europe at some of my favourite tracks and I think we're in good shape for them!"
Colin Edwards :
“I don't have much positive stuff to say about today's race! I had hoped that I would be able to try for a podium but right from the start I didn't have any rear grip and it was all I could do to keep it upright throughout the race. I genuinely believe that our bike is the best on the grid and I've never felt happier with it, but unfortunately the package as a whole isn't working for me at the moment and we need to understand why. I had a slightly different tyre to Valentino but he really showed his class again today. I just want to forget about this race and look forward to Le Mans, where I've always gone well."
Davide Brivio :
"If you had told us before we got here that we would take second place, we would have been happy with that. Then of course on Friday and Saturday we realised that we could in fact battle for the victory! Valentino was perfect today and he couldn't have done anything better. His mistake was due to his fighting spirit, his refusal to give up and his will to fight until the end; this is the mark of a champion. We showed we have huge potential, we lack a little bit of top speed and we must improve the performance of the engine so this is what we will be working on in the next few weeks. Colin showed with his performance yesterday that he has the ability to do well this season, but he used a different tyre and a different set-up to Valentino and unfortunately it didn't work for him today. Valentino and Yamaha are in perfect sh ape and Colin has proved that he too can do great things when everything's working well for him. The championship is still young and we will keep on fighting like we did today."