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Rossi still the man to beat

Rossi still the man to beat

Rossi still the man to beat

MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi arrives at his home Grand Prix at Mugello this weekend in his worst run of form since his debut premier-class victory. The Grand Prix Polini de France three weeks ago was the first time since Jerez 2000, which was just his fourth race on a 500cc machine, that the Italian has failed to finish on the podium in two consecutive races and, with Carlos Checa finishing second, was the first time he had been beaten by his team-mate since Tohru Ukawa took victory on the Repsol Honda at Welkom in 2002.

If Rossi can return to the podium this weekend he will be the first Yamaha rider to do so at Mugello since Max Biaggi in 2002, whilst victory would provide the Japanese factory with their first win here since 1991 with Wayne Rainey.

However, despite his recent form and the history books being against him, Rossi remains the man to beat in the Gran Premio Cinzano d'Italia. The 25 year old has won here for the past two seasons and also took 125cc and 250cc victories at this circuit – the only man to have won here in all three classes.

Fourth place for Rossi at Le Mans was also the 25th consecutive race at which he had scored points, the last time he failed to finish in the top fifteen being at Brno in 2002 when he had to retire with a tyre problem. Only three riders have bettered this remarkable run of consistency - Mick Doohan, who holds the current record with 37 consecutive points-scoring finishes, Wayne Gardner and Eddie Lawson.

MotoGP, 2004, GRAN PREMIO CINZANO D'ITALIA, Valentino Rossi

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