Mike's Phillip Island Mini-Preview

The season's over, isn't it? Casey Stoner is the new MotoGP champion, most of the rides for next year are spoken for, and the only interesting thing left is what brand tire will be shoved down the teams' throats in '08. Might as well cancel the rest of the races and give the boys some time off, right?

Wrong.

What's left of this season is pride. For Casey Stoner, it's coming home and putting on a show for the blokes. The Oiland's audience capacity has been drastically increased and there will be literally hundreds of thousands of screamin' Aussies jammed into the place to see the 2007 World Champion take a win on the home sod.

For Chris Vermeulen and Ant West, it's also a chance to put on a show for the locals. The only thing that would please the crowd more than seeing Casey take the win would be an all-Ocker podium. Given the fickle nature of PI's seaside weather, this is entirely possible. If it rains (and probably even if it doesn't) Chris the V and Westy will likely be at the front.

West is probably the second biggest draw for the home crowd. At the beginning of the season, the likelyhood of him landing a MotoGP ride looked as plausible as a graceful US exit strategy in Iraq. However, after a couple of very strong fill-in rides in WSS, West replaced Olivier Jacque at Kawasaki and was chosen for a full-time ride in '08.

Pride is a huge factor for the rest of the field as well. Valentino Rossi will be looking for redemption after a catastrophic showing at Motegi. John Hopkins would like nothing better than to get the no-win monkey off his back whilst still at Suzuki. The Repsol Honda team would like to continue their late season progress. Dani Pedrosa has had a mixed history here and Nicky Hayden loves the place. At Gresini, Marco Melandri, who always does well at PI, would love to see the MRNG spit out a 1. Toni Elias, who isn't signed for '08 as of yet, would like to have another win in his resume to show potential employers. Shinya Nakano's future in MotoGP is likely on the line as the seson winds down. On and on down the field, the constant is that the riders need to have something to feel proud of from the '07 season.

One thing is for sure. When all that's at stake is pride, great racing results. No championship mode. No team orders. No finishing for points. The only thing that matters is the checkered flag at the end. Those of us who are unable to be down under shouldn't blow this one off. Stock up on the tinnies, throw some wallaby on the barbie and commence to grinning like a shot fox while while watching the bikies have at it and yelling "Aussie. aussie aussie! Oi, oi, oi!".

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