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The season so far: British Grand Prix

The season so far: British Grand Prix

Happenings from the British Grand Prix, with easily-accessible video footage from Donington Park.

A number of riders were competing at what they regarded as a second `home circuit´ when the British Grand Prix rolled into town in late June, although there would be only one rider in the premier class who could truly call Donington Park his hometrack. Tech3 Yamaha´s James Toseland was the local hero looking to wow the crowd, although his was a Sunday of disappointment.

Before the action got underway, Toseland joined up with smaller category countrymen Eugene Laverty, Scott Redding, Bradley Smith and Danny Webb in a visit to London on Wednesday, with fellow MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso accompanying the Brits in checking out the London Transport Museum.

At the track on the Thursday morning, there were two major talking points not relating to the full-time entrants in the World Championship. One of the subjects of the Donington Park chatter was Rizla Suzuki replacement rider Ben Spies, standing in for the injured Loris Capirossi, whilst the other was a man not even present at the circuit; Sete Gibernau having been taking part in a three-day test in Mugello for Ducati.

When the sun came up on the Friday, attentions turned firmly to the on-track action. Casey Stoner opened proceedings as the fastest man in the MotoGP FP1, establishing a precedent that he would follow throughout a dominant weekend for the 2007 MotoGP World Champion. He continued his form during FP2, looking every bit the winner elect of the British Grand Prix for the second consecutive year.

Whilst Stoner was tearing it up onboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP8, another man with a World Championship to his name also had some power at his disposal. 2006 titlist Nicky Hayden was using the Honda pneumatic valve engine for the first time at a Grand Prix weekend, repaying HRC´s faith in him by reappearing at the top end of the combined practice timesheet.

Hayden had been granted one of his desires for the season, and also did his fair share of giving as part of his role as an ambassador for the Make-A-Wish foundation. He showed some less fortunate children around the Grand Prix paddock, giving them a taste of the VIP experience.

After FP3, the riders and crews were contemplating the prospect of a wet race in Donington Park. Juan Martinez was the man in the know for Kawasaki on the subject, working with wet weather specialist Anthony West in setting up the Ninja ZX-RR for the eventuality of heavy rainfall.

Such setups were definitely needed in qualifying, although it was Casey Stoner who proved most adept to the task. The Australian navigated the tricky conditions to take his second consecutive pole position, continually improving his times in the face of any comers. It meant that Valentino Rossi would be denied the top spot for the occasion of his 200th Grand Prix, a figure comprising of Donington appearances in 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP campaigns.

Future MotoGP Legend Rossi and fellow premier class title winners Stoner and Hayden were not the only men with a title to their name present at the British race. MotoGP Legends Phil Read and Jim Redman were in attendance, receiving honours from MotoGP rights holders Dorna Sports S.L. and premier class team San Carlo Honda Gresini.

Another former rider -Randy Mamola- was also on track on raceday Sunday as part of Ducati´s MotoGPX2 experience. As always, the former premier class runner-up was taking a famous face around the circuit on a two seater bike, and at Donington it was the turn of comedian Ross Noble to find out that high speed riding is certainly no laughing matter, although the Briton was understandably smiley after his stomach had resettled.

The race itself saw another Ducati out on its own, this time the single seater version used by poleman Casey Stoner. The 22 year-old took a runaway victory, ahead of Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, to heat things up in the title chase.


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