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Rossi talks rivals.

Valentino Rossi says the Sepang test confirmed that Casey Stoner will once again be his toughest rival in 2009, but the Italian is reserving judgement on Honda's Dani Pedrosa and was surprised by the strength of Suzuki.

Rossi finished the test second fastest to Stoner, although Ducati's 2007 world champion was only 0.094sec quicker than Fiat Yamaha's reigning title holder.

The biggest upset came from Loris Capirossi, who put his Suzuki fastest of all on day one and was a close third by day three, whilst the second GSV-R of Chris Vermeulen was consistently in the top six.

Dani Pedrosa was fourth fastest on day two, but then left the test early due to pain from an injured knee, while Rossi's team-mate and 2008 rookie of the year Jorge Lorenzo recovered from a slow start to claim seventh.

Reflecting on what he had seen at Sepang, Rossi summed up the opposition as follows:

“I think Casey will be the toughest rival and we have to wait and see for Pedrosa, when he is ok. Capirossi is the surprise with the Suzuki and also Vermeulen is good. I think Lorenzo needs some more kilometres, but for the first race will be competitive.”

Stoner, making his MotoGP comeback after wrist surgery, was second to Capirossi on day one, then fastest of all on days two and three - despite pain from his wrist restricting him to short bursts of 4-5 laps.

However Rossi, himself riding injured after falling through a glass table shortly before the test, claimed that Stoner's record-breaking lap time indicates that his wrist couldn't have been causing him too much pain.

Stoner's best test lap of 2min 1.043sec, set on race tyres, was half a second quicker than Pedrosa's pole position time in last October's Malaysian Grand Prix.

“Stoner is already very fast. I think that to make this lap time he doesn't have a lot of pain, because if you have a lot of pain and you make this lap time then without pain he could maybe be one and a half seconds faster!” said the Italian. “I don't think that is the reality,”

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billie morini - Unregistered

February 20, 2009 8:02 AM

Dray wrote: "I think the fastest riders will soon be known. Those riders will probably be in this order 1)Casey Stoner, 2)Dani Pedrosa, 3)Valentino Rossi, 4)Lorenzo or Dovi..." Billie responds: "I think the completed 2009 season standings will be 1) Rossi, 2) Stoner, 3) Lorenzo, 4) Pedrosa."

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