Valentino Rossi looking forward to new Sete Gibernau battle

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Reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi says he is looking forward to renewing his rivalry with former foe Sete Gibernau in the 2009 MotoGP world championship.

Rossi and Gibernau were once paddock friends before their relationship deteriorated at the back end of the 2004 campaign.

And their rivalry reached its peak at the Spanish GP in Jerez in 2005 when Rossi claimed a dramatic victory at the final corner with a move that saw Gibernau end up in the gravel.

Fiat Yamaha rider Rossi though reckons he’s happy to see the Spaniard back in premier class action after Gibernau decided to step out of retirement to make a shock return next season.

He will ride for the Onde 2000 Ducati squad and Rossi said: “I am sorry I didn’t see Sete on the track when we tested in Valencia because I think it’s quite a big emotion for us to be together on the track again after all our great battles. I am happy to see him back. We spoke a little bit in the summer when he was thinking about coming back and I’m looking forward to racing him again.”

Looking ahead to 2009 though and the defence of his world title, eight-times world champion Rossi believes the biggest threat will come from the likes of chief 2008 rival Casey Stoner, factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

He has also backed new Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso and new Ducati recruit Nicky Hayden to figure prominently next season.

The six-times MotoGP champion added: “It will be very different with a one tyre rule but I hope it will be exciting. But I think it will be very hard, especially with Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Stoner, Hayden and Pedrosa.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt