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Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 11:05 UK

Matt Roberts' MotoGP column

By Matt Roberts
BBC Sport at Sachsenring

Valentino Rossi leads Jorge Lorenzo
How long will Lorenzo be happy to play second fiddle Rossi at Yamaha?

Valentino Rossi's latest morale-crushing victory over Jorge Lorenzo at Sachsenring was about much more than the 25 points he got for winning.

It also represented the latest chapter in an increasingly fierce status battle at Yamaha, with Lorenzo insisting he is worth more than the team's current offer of a two-year contract - reported to be only a quarter of the salary being paid to Rossi.

The manner of Rossi's triumph was only overshadowed by the way he risked life and limb to usurp his young team-mate for pole position on Saturday on a saturated ice rink of a circuit that had already caused nine crashes.

It was the Italian's first wet-weather pole since Imola in 1996, when he was in the 125cc class, proof that if Lorenzo is heading for the exit door Rossi is happy to hold it open - and even give him a boot up the backside on the way out for good measure.

It is an interesting quandary for Lorenzo. He is ideally placed to inherit the best bike and biggest contract in the paddock when Rossi eventually retires but says he currently feels undervalued.

The backing of Spanish telecommunications giants Telefonica would certainly make a move to Honda more lucrative for the 22-year-old from Majorca. The question is whether he would be as competitive in the long term.

Lorenzo is not exactly a rider known for his patience and, not for the first time, he is waging a war with his own ego - the result of which we may find out as soon as Donington Park next weekend.


Elsewhere this weekend there were notable improvements for Ducati pair Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden in terms of fitness and performance respectively.

Ducati rider Nicky Hayden
After an up and down season, Hayden has something to smile about

Stoner's recent ailments have been identified as mild anaemia and gastritis. Whilst he remains unconvinced by the diagnosis, the medication certainly seemed to do the trick.

After the race, he said he felt he could have battled with Rossi and Lorenzo if it weren't for a lack of edge grip on the left side of his rear tyre.

It was also another positive weekend for Hayden, who recorded the highest qualifying position by a Ducati rider other than Stoner since the Australian joined the team at the start of 2007.

But his fourth place on the grid was spoiled by a poor start.

Admitting his crashes in qualifying and warm-up were the result of being overexcited at his improved pace, the American also revealed that nerves caused him to overshoot the first turn, leaving him to battle back from 14th to finish in an otherwise impressive eighth.


Hayden's factory colleague Mika Kallio blamed premature degradation of his front tyre for a disappointing 14th place - but it was the degradation of a digit that was of more concern to those of us in the pressroom unfortunate enough to see it.

Kallio missed the last race at Laguna Seca after suffering the injury a week previously at Assen.

Casually swapping his plaster for a more sophisticated dressing at the trackside clinic on Thursday, he barely batted an eyelid as he revealed what looked to be a salami but was in fact the top half of his wedding finger, ground down to the bone and beyond.

His recently acquired wedding ring had to be cut off but the Flying Finn insisted with a rueful smile: "Honestly, that was not my intention."


The trackside medics were busier than usual this weekend, with nine MotoGP crashes on Saturday afternoon alone and Stoner, Lorenzo and Chris Vermeulen still needing treatment on the injuries they picked up at the previous race.

A school nurse treating a patient
Now what have you done to yourself this time, Master Stoner?

Vermeulen won this week's Holby City scriptwriters' award for the most complicated sounding condition, referred to in the Suzuki press release as a grade one acromioclavicular separation of the left shoulder.

Not quite as impressive as the pulled gluteus medius and cracked greater trochanter as described by the Repsol Honda team and which was suffered by Dani Pedrosa at Le Mans.

Toni Elias also dropped in to the Clinica for a Lemsip because the Spaniard was struggling all weekend with a stomach problem and some flu symptoms. "Don't worry, it's not swine flu!" he told me as I dashed for cover.


The Tech 3 garage didn't have much to smile about this weekend, with Colin Edwards and James Toseland struggling to ninth and 10th respectively.

Whilst Edwards could have an outside chance of getting Lorenzo's ride at Yamaha if the Spaniard moves to Honda, Toseland's position gets more perilous with every race, especially with Vermeulen and Randy de Puniet rumoured to be offering their services to Tech 3 for free next year.

If there is a silver lining for Toseland, it is that, unlike last year, the expectation from his fans could not be lower for his home race at Donington this weekend.

Having crashed at the first corner when the pressure was on, let's hope 2009 provides a different scenario.



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see also
Rossi pips Lorenzo for German win
19 Jul 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
28 Jun 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
17 Jun 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
02 Jun 09 |  MotoGP


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