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Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 11:50 UK

Matt Roberts' MotoGP column

By Matt Roberts
BBC Sport at Mugello

Casey Stoner
Stoner is proving to be Ducati's saviour

Valentino Rossi's incredible seven-year unbeaten run at Mugello had to come to an end sooner or later, as did Casey Stoner's dry spell at Ducati's home circuit - one of only five tracks the Australian hadn't won at in MotoGP.

With three of the other four - Jerez, Le Mans and Motegi - already behind him and only Indianapolis to tick off the list, Stoner's rivals have plenty of reason for concern with the Australian now on top of the championship.

He is the only one in the top four to have scored points in every race so far and has 34 points more than he did at the same stage last season.

Casey could just about write his own cheques at the moment because Ducati's entire multi-million pound MotoGP project rests on his shoulders.

Nobody at the factory is any clearer as to why he and only he can ride the Desmosedici but his team-mate Nicky Hayden was no closer to being on the pace in dry conditions at Mugello, despite this being the circuit where the machine was developed and tested.

It is a completely demoralising situation for Nicky and reminiscent of the nightmare endured last year by Marco Melandri, who again proved he has lost none of his ability by leading the race on Sunday.

Nicky's only remaining hope is that the bike is more suited to the upcoming tracks than the ones we've already seen.

If you think Nicky's weekend was bad, spare a thought for Dani Pedrosa.

In an interview for the BBC filmed on Friday, Dani told us the eye-watering extent of his pre-season injuries and muscle graft operation in full gory detail, only to suffer another huge setback in practice the following day.

Dani Pedrosa
Pedrosa now faces a race to be fit for his home race

There were constantly-changing reports about the exact nature of the injury caused when his Honda went into a huge rear-wheel slide and then shook him violently as it stepped back in, severely stretching his right hip.

In fact, Pedrosa had pulled the gluteus medius muscle in a jolt so fierce that it also caused a small crack in the greater trochanter (thigh) bone, where the muscle attaches. No wonder he was clenching his buttock when he crashed out of the race!

However, extensive scans on his return to Barcelona on Monday confirmed that no further damage had been caused and he now faces 10 days of uncomfortable physiotherapy before his home race at the Catalunya circuit.

Dani will no doubt get full support from a bumper local crowd, with over 60,000 tickets already sold.

The figures are up on sales at the same stage last year, when race day attendance reached 113,000.

Rossi confirmed this weekend that he will take on MotoGP legends Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Kenny Roberts in a special karting clash before the USGP at Laguna Seca next month.

The quartet, who all won world titles for Yamaha, will drive TZ250 super karts on the Thursday afternoon in a one-off event

"I'm quite fast but I don't know if I am at the same level as Eddie," said Rossi, who started out in junior karting before concentrating on bike racing.

"I think I'll do just two laps to try the kart without a lot of fighting. It's Friday or Saturday before the race, so I go slower because I have to race on Sunday. "

Lawson and Rainey have raced karts competitively since retiring on two wheels and Lawson has lapped Laguna in one minute 23.924 seconds - just over two seconds slower than Casey Stoner's MotoGP lap record.

James Toseland picked up his best result of the season so far in achieving seventh place on Sunday and while it will have given him a great confidence boost, it is not yet the major breakthrough he has been hoping for.

James Toseland
Toseland has plenty to think about in his second MotoGP season

The reality is that James is still trying to adapt his riding style to a MotoGP machine - especially one as precise and sensitive as the Yamaha - and that says a lot about how special the guys are who are making them work.

His problem lies in not letting off the brakes early enough and carrying his speed through the corner. It is a matter of instinct and, as such, not something he can suddenly change overnight.

Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista were hauled in front of Race Direction after a heart-stopping 250cc race, in which the Italian ran them both off track when they were dicing for the lead.

The pair were involved in a similar incident last year and while Simoncelli was given a yellow card on that occasion, there was no further punishment this time - much to Bautista's chagrin.

"It seems like they wipe the slate clean at the start of each season and the way they have punished him, you'd think he rode like a saint every week," shrugged Bautista.

"It's hard because the temptation is there to take your retribution on the track but I won't do that. All I can say is that I won't back down in Barcelona."

Sunday's action in all three classes was very much of the 'don't try this at home' variety but that's just what you'll be able to do with the release this week of the official MotoGP videogame for the Nintendo Wii.

The game turns the Wii remote into a virtual set of handlebars and lets you really lean into the corners and swerve your way through the pack.

You can compete in any of the three classes - 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP - but leathers and helmets are not included, so if you are thinking of recreating Simoncelli and Bautista's antics, elbow pads might be an idea.

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see also
Matt Roberts' Mugello report
29 May 09 |  MotoGP
Stoner triumphs in Mugello epic
31 May 09 |  MotoGP
Smith wins to lead championship
31 May 09 |  MotoGP
Lorenzo wins thriller at Le Mans
17 May 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
05 May 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
28 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
14 Apr 09 |  MotoGP

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