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It is certainly amusing to see the Rossi brigade get excited about the goat getting sixth place. Maybe he is starting to come to terms with the needs of his Ducati mistress, which is good news. But sixth is hardly reason to start popping the champagne corks.
As for being faster than last year, i think the tyres are better this year and it should be quicker - it has had another full year of development and many millions of euros chucked at it. It also finally puts to bed the myth that the GP 11 is worse than GP 10.
As a comparison, Stoner beat Lorenzo's race winning time time by 6 secs or so despite buttoning off in the last few laps. With similar time improvements over last year, it further puts to bed the fallacy of a huge step by honda/yam and a backward step by Ducati.
Reality = Rossi having difficulty finding the Ducati's g-spot but improving... maybe due to lack of experience ')