MCN's MotoGP repoter is in Australia to report ont he latest round of the MotoGP world championship, and he's filed a daily blog to give more insight into what goes on away from the TV screens, as well as explaining life as a roving reporter.
All set for Rossi/Hayden showdown
Just when some paddock cynics were wondering whether Nicky Haydens world title challenge was about to fall apart like a cheap watch, the American reminded everyone why he is the top of the shopping list of Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
Those closest to him have been getting increasingly worried that the intense speculation about his future would begin to have a negative influence on his performances.
I think it depends on which way the wind is blowing influences what people tell you. I spoke to some Japanese contacts today and they said it seems Nicky is moving closer to Yamaha! And that was after somebody told me this morning he was now favouring Ducati. Nicky is still saying he wants to stay with Honda, but only on his terms.
After finishing ninth in Brno and fourth in Sepang, Nicky badly needed something to jolt his morale, and todays first pole of the season will do for starters, but the old cliché springs to mind theres no points awarded on Saturday.
While Nicky desperately wants to win, he doesnt need to hang it all on the line with a 26-point lead over Valentino Rossi. Like he said at his debrief, hes just got to ride smart and not make any mistakes, which at this time of the season would be catastrophic. Even Mick Doohan said today that all Nicky had to do for the rest of the season was follow Rossi around and hed be world champion. While he grabbed pole in impressive fashion, a look at the lap times suggests Rossi has more in his locker on race tyres. He was consistently faster on race rubber than Nicky, and lets not forget hes won here for the last five years, so the bookies will take a bashing if he does it again. But Rossi admitted today that it would be impossible to breakaway from the pack, and that Hayden would be the number one threat.
Rossi said he could have even sneaked pole had he not been forced to shut the throttle on his Yamaha after a wheelie exiting the last corner. Expect a cautious first few laps though from Rossi and Hayden. Both said they were still having problems getting heat into their Michelin rear tyres for the first three laps, and neither can afford to make an error trying to go too gung-ho in the early stages with so much at stake.
Despite his poor grid position of 12th, the fastest man on race tyres is Sete Gibernau, but the Bridgestone qualifying rubber was too soft, and apparently he wasnt happy at all in the garage afterwards. The Spaniard actually set his best time of the session on race rubber.
Hayden and Rossi also said it would be foolish to discount Dani Pedrosa from figuring at the front, though the Spaniard is still struggling badly with that gashed left knee he suffered eight days ago now in Malaysia and will be back on the fourth row.
If youre brave enough to get up at 6am to watch the race live at home tomorrow then enjoy it. Phillip Island has always served up some fantastic races, and if todays qualifying is anything to go by, it should be bonza as they say in this part of the world.
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