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Valentino Rossi set to again defend MotoGP crown

April 9, 2010 |  5:16 pm

Can “The Doctor” do it again?

Rossi2 Valentino Rossi, arguably the greatest motorcycle racer ever and dubbed “The Doctor” for the clinical way he goes about mastering a race track, again is looking to defend his championship in MotoGP, the series with a global following that is bike racing’s equivalent to auto racing’s Formula One series.

The 31-year-old Italian has won the title the last two years and has seven MotoGP championships overall – nine if one includes his titles in two of the sport’s second-tier series.

Rossi and the rest of the field open their season Sunday in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. The series’ 18-race season also includes two U.S. stops, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey on July 25 and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 29.

Rossi faces plenty of competition this season from the likes of his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Australian Casey Stoner, Spain’s Dani Pedrosa and three American riders: Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards and former AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies.

--Jim Peltz

Photo: Reigning MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi during a photo session Friday ahead of the series grand prix in Doha, Qatar. Credit: Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images