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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Can Rossi recover?
Steve Parrish
By Steve Parrish
BBC motorbikes commentator

Valentino Rossi
I've still got my money on Rossi to win the championship
Steve Parrish

It just goes from bad to worse for Valentino Rossi.

Technical problems curtailed his race in Shanghai and it seems the reigning champion's luck is starting to run out.

At times over the past couple of years he has been a lucky so-and-so but sometimes it just all falls apart.

We've all had it happen to us but I've still got my money on him.

The Yamaha team around him are so strong and are such an analytical bunch I'm sure they will get it sorted.

They are frantically working to sort out the chattering and vibration problems that continue to plague them.

I was with Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards on Tuesday and he told me they are doing all they can to sort it out.

French MotoGP
Race: Sun, BBC Two, 1225
BBC Interactive:
Sat, qualifying, 1255
Sun, MotoGP Extra, 1400

According to Colin, they have done everything possible to the bike and unless they have a major chassis change they are just going to have to live with it.

Perhaps they were hoodwinked by their successful pre-season testing.

Everything was going well and they were fastest over the winter but since the season has started they've been caught with their pants down a bit.

However, it will take a couple more races before I'll be convinced that Rossi isn't going to win the title.

He says he doesn't like the track at Le Mans but he does win there and I'm tipping him to repeat his success of last season.

I also tipped Dani Pedrosa to do well in Shanghai and he did. In fact, his victory was absolutely stunning.

It was a masterful performance from the 20-year-old.

He ran a faultless race, responded when anyone put him under pressure and just looked superb.

Much to my disbelief he is a genuine title contender and I've certainly had to change the opinions I had at the start of the year.

He has a lot in his favour, not least having the might of Honda behind him and a very strong team-mate in Nicky Hayden.

Honda are having a great season so far and they've put a lot of effort and money in.

They were obviously fed-up at being second best for the last two years so they've come up with a good package.

It seems they haven't changed anything dramatically, they have just chipped away at it and now they are reaping the benefits.

So on to Le Mans we go.

It's a great track but some of the riders aren't great fans of it as it is a little bit stop-start.

It's got a lot of atmosphere and big crowds, which generally makes for a good race.

This season just gets more and more interesting.

Predictions: 1. Rossi 2. Hayden 3. Pedrosa

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