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2008 heats up as fantastic four do battle

2008 heats up as fantastic four do battle

The MotoGP class is tight at the top, with four winners from as many races and a nine point gap separating the top three.

Four races into the 2008 MotoGP season, and the premier class standings are already showing signs that this year could be one of the most competitive ever. Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner are amongst the frontrunners, but nowhere near as dominant as at this stage in years gone by.

The top three riders in the premier class –namely current series leader Dani Pedrosa, Fiat Yamaha rookie Jorge Lorenzo and five-time MotoGP World Champion Rossi- are separated by just 9 points with a win apiece so far this year. Contrast this with Stoner´s 37 point advantage over third placed Pedrosa after last year´s opening quartet of races, and all signs point to an even battle for supremacy as the season unfolds.

The Chinese round of the series´ having been the fourth round on the calendar for the past three years makes it an ideal viewpoint for reflection, with 2006 being the closest parallel to this season´s events.

As was the situation two years ago, there have been four different winners from as many races. Ducati rider Stoner´s repeat victory in Qatar, Pedrosa´s home triumph in Jerez, Lorenzo´s maiden victory in Estoril and Rossi´s Sunday return to form stand side-by-side with 2006 victors Loris Capirossi (Jerez), Rossi (Qatar), Marco Melandri (Turkey) and Pedrosa (China). These are the only two occasions in which such a situation has occurred since the 2002 switch to four-stroke machinery.

With Lorenzo´s position as a MotoGP rookie meaning he has no previous records for comparison, only Pedrosa and Rossi´s performances can be compared to last season. The Repsol Honda rider has 32 more points on the board than at this stage in 2007, whilst Rossi has just 1 less than his total from last year.

Despite running out of a partitioned garage and using different tyre manufacturers, Lorenzo and Rossi are still classed as a team in the MotoGP standings. The duo´s early success has taken Fiat Yamaha to the top of the team classification, 36 points clear of second placed Repsol Honda. Ducati Marlboro lie in third, owing mainly to 2007 World Champion Stoner´s start to the year but helped along by Marco Melandri´s return to the top six in China.

Heading to Le Mans in France on May 18th, the series can be expected to heat up yet further, with the different winners´ total record open for breakage.

MotoGP, 2008

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