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Full GP Review: Misano

Full GP Review: Misano

Some of the best video action from the Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.

The circuit of Misano welcomed the MotoGP World Championship on the weekend of August 31st, with the riders prepared for another showdown at the Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.

Getting reacquainted with the circuit after a year away, the riders had some small modifications to learn at the San Marino track. One man who had seen the changes up close was home rider and World Championship leader Valentino Rossi, who gave an OnBoard tour of his local track.

Rossi was just one of the riders with victory at Misano in his sights, and some of the famous faces from the World Championship were sharpening their aim in the Thursday pre-event involving traditional San Marino activities. Taking things easy on his return to action after missing the Brno round was Nicky Hayden, who was on the comeback trail from a foot injury.

With thousands of fans expected to flock to the circuit from Rossi´s hometown of Tavullia, the Fiat Yamaha admitted that the pressure was on him in the Thursday press conference.

Friday morning saw the first MotoGP practice of the weekend, a session headed by 2007 racewinner Casey Stoner. Aside from the reigning World Champion´s astounding early laps, attention was also focused on a rider not on track. Kawasaki´s John Hopkins did not appear for either of the two Friday runs, still suffering from a niggling rib injury, as Kawasaki boss Michael Bartholemy explained. Hopkins´ Team Manager also revealed the current state of affairs regarding `Team Green´s 2009 projects.

Also planning for the future were Rizla Suzuki, with Paul Denning indicating that a contract extension for Loris Capirossi was little more than a formality and that talks with Chris Vermeulen were in an advanced stage. Capirossi was out to set a new Grand Prix appearance record at Misano, an achievement that meant a great deal to the Italian.

Stoner once again led the way in the second practice session, but revealed afterwards that it had come at a price. The Ducati Marlboro rider had re-opened a scaphoid fracture in his left wrist, and was going to have to ride through the pain in order to make up ground in the title chase. It didn´t seem to affect the Australian, however, as he also asserted his dominance in FP3.

Pole position also went to Stoner, his seventh in a row, in a spectacular qualifying session. He placed ahead of Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who returned to the front row after a long time away.

The Sunday morning warmup had a notable absentee in the form of 2006 World Champion Hayden. The American had decided that his foot was too badly hurt to risk a race return, and withdrew from the session and the race with the expectation of improving his fitness for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Anticipation was at a high for the MotoGP race, with thousands of fans packing the grandstands. There were also plenty of VIP visitors in attendance, including football legend Diego Maradona and Le Mans 24h winner Allan McNish.

They didn´t go home disappointed, witnessing a hugely popular victory by home hero Rossi, ever closer to a sixth title as rival Stoner crashed out early on. Teammate Lorenzo was back on the podium, whilst Toni Elias made it two rostrum finishes from as many races in third. Elias made it known that he was a free agent after his latest success, with Jorge Martinez Aspar indicating that he had entered into negotiations with Kawasaki to run his fellow Spaniard on a Kawasaki satellite bike in 2009.

A more immediate move was the final action on Sunday, as Honda announced that Dani Pedrosa would be moving to Bridgestone tyres for the remainder of the 2008 season.


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