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Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 13:24 UK

Steve Parrish's MotoGP column

Steve Parrish
By Steve Parrish
BBC motorbikes commentator

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi is aiming for his eighth straight win at Mugello

Valentino Rossi goes into the Italian MotoGP chasing an incredible eighth successive win at the the Mugello circuit.

It hasn't mattered whether he has been on a Honda or a Yamaha bike, or Bridgestone or Michelin tyres - since 2002 he has reigned supreme much to the delight of his home fans.

He has such a love affair with this track.

I've seen him draw wins out of absolutely nothing, and seemingly lost causes, here and it's a phenomenal record he has built up.

The law of averages says he has to lose at some point, but he has got a winning bike underneath him so I can see no reason why he won't do it again.

Mind you he is coming into the race after recording the first last-place finish of his career at Le Mans.

That was just a blip though and a bad day at the office all round for him.

Saturday 30 May
Qualifying: 1200-1500, BBC Red Button/online (repeated on BBC Red Button from 1500)
Sunday 31 May
125cc and 250cc races: 0950-1205, BBC Red Button/online (repeated on BBC Red Button from 1205-2000 Monday)
Race live: 1230-1400, BBC Two/online (repeated on BBC Red Button from 1430-2000 Monday)
MotoGP Extra: 1400-1430, BBC Red Button/online

The strategy of coming in early didn't work and he and Yamaha just got their guess-work a bit wrong.

It was quite funny watching, though, as everyone followed them in, presumably because they know Rossi and Yamaha normally always get it right.

The overall placings at Le Mans means there are only nine points separating the top four and it's a Battle Royale for the championship.

I'm struggling to think of a year when the race for the championship has been so close between so many riders. There is so little to separate Rossi, championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

They are all race winners and every single one of them will be chasing the others down, so you have to be right on the money all time.

I think Stoner and his Ducati team are probably a little surprised they haven't won more races so far this season.

The Australian has been right up there and very consistent, but their pre-season form in testing and his win in Qatar gave the impression he was going to be the man to beat.

I'm not sure if they have gone off the boil ever-so-slightly or whether the competition has been tougher than they expected.

They made a little adjustment to their bike in Le Mans and maybe it just isn't quite there at the moment.

Spain's Pedrosa is nearing 100% fitness after his injury problems over the winter.

And he will need to be up to something approaching full fitness as Mugello is one of the most physically demanding tracks due to its fast S bends and heavy breaking areas.

That, allied with the heat that we could get over the weekend, means the riders' stamina will be tested fully.

A quick word on James Toseland, and it is still not going according to plan for him.

He needs to knuckle down and the more laps he puts in the better his season will become.

It isn't a nice sight to see your team-mate pass you during a race and Toseland's morale could be affected after Colin Edwards went by him in Le Mans.

Mugello prediction:
1) Valentino Rossi 2) Jorge Lorenzo 3) Casey Stoner

Steve Parrish was talking to Paul Birch.

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see also
Lorenzo secures pole at Mugello
30 May 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
19 May 09 |  MotoGP
Lorenzo wins thriller at Le Mans
17 May 09 |  MotoGP
Pedrosa takes pole at French GP
16 May 09 |  MotoGP
What new rules mean for MotoGP
12 Apr 09 |  Motorsport
Rossi roars to sixth world title
28 Sep 08 |  MotoGP
Impeccable Rossi wins at Mugello
01 Jun 08 |  MotoGP
MotoGP calendar 2011
15 Mar 11 |  MotoGP
MotoGP on the BBC
15 Mar 11 |  MotoGP
MotoGP standings
31 Oct 10 |  MotoGP
Contact the motorbikes TV team
06 Mar 07 |  MotoGP

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