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Rookie of the Year battle intensifies

Rookie of the Year battle intensifies

MotoGP rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso are locked into a battle for the Rookie of the Year award which could go right down to the wire.

Having been the top dogs in the 250cc class in 2006 and 2007 Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso made the step up to MotoGP together this season and following great campaigns from the two riders both are in still the top five – and still fighting for the honour of being Rookie of the Year - with two rounds to go.

Having outperformed fellow 250cc graduate Alex de Angelis and Tech3 Yamaha new boy James Toseland – who has had eight new tracks to learn this season – Lorenzo and Dovizioso have enjoyed great results, with the former still in with a chance of finishing third overall, sitting 27 points behind Dani Pedrosa in the standings.

Dovizioso, meanwhile, is 37 points behind Lorenzo, with 50 still to play for - and will not give up until beating the man who took the 250cc title ahead of him two seasons in a row is mathematically impossible.

The opening Grand Prix of the year in the superb floodlit setting of Qatar´s Losail International Circuit set the tone for the rest of the campaign for Lorenzo and Dovizioso.

The Spaniard´s sensational pole and great race to second place at the desert circuit and the Italian´s excellent fourth place finish ahead of compatriot Valentino Rossi as the youngsters made their MotoGP debuts demonstrated that they were ready to play with the big boys.

Lorenzo remarkably went on to pick up four podium finishes from the opening five rounds, including a brilliant maiden MotoGP victory in Portugal and another second place in France when riding injured. Indeed, his injuries were picked up in a massive free practice highside crash in China, from which he immediately bounced back to finish fourth in Shanghai on his 21st birthday.

However, surgery to relieve the symptoms of `arm pump´ in that early stage of the season and Lorenzo´s Chinese mishap were followed up by further crashes at Mugello and Barcelona, the Italian crash resulting in a DNF and the Catalunya accident resulting in hospitalisation for concussion and race day on the sidelines.

Over the summer months the 250cc World Champion battled to regain his confidence and form, the reward for his perseverance finally coming in the second race after the summer break at Misano as he returned to the podium in second place behind his rampant team-mate Rossi.

Another podium finish and two subsequent fourth places mean Lorenzo is right back on form as the season finale approaches and he will be optimistic about holding off Dovizioso in the Rookie of the Year fight.

For Dovizioso however, his rookie season may not have included as many sensational ups and downs but it has been similarly impressive – and on factory machinery with Repsol Honda next year he will be confident of regularly getting closer to Lorenzo on race day in 2009.

The JiR Team Scot rider has only twice failed to finish a race in the top ten in 2008 and only once has he been unable to score points, crashing out after a great run at Estoril – where his great rival Lorenzo was of course victorious.

Dovizioso has not been on the MotoGP podium yet but has gone close on several occasions, with three fourth place finishes and seven top fives overall the highlights of a remarkably consistent campaign.

The visits to Malaysia and Valencia as the 2008 World Championship campaign concludes will see Dovizioso hoping for his first premier class rostrum appearance and attempting to outscore Lorenzo on both occasions as the bragging rights of 2008 MotoGP Rookie of the Year are contested to the death.

MotoGP, 2008, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso

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