Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi broke an eight-month MotoGP victory drought by edging Spaniard Dani Pedrosa to win the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai in wet conditions yesterday.
The Italian, who qualified second fastest, overtook Pedrosa early to take control of the race before burning away from the Spaniard to win in 44 minutes 8.061 seconds.
Pedrosa, on a Honda, battled hard to stay with Rossi but ultimately finished 3.89 seconds behind the Italian with Australian world champion Casey Stoner a distant third.
Rossi, who had not won since Portugal in September last year, made light of drizzly rain at the Shanghai International Circuit, setting a circuit record of 1 minute 59.273 seconds on his 18th lap.
"I'm very, very happy, as it's been a long time without victory. This was a difficult period," Rossi said.
"I really had to push to beat Dani. It was a great victory for us," the Yamaha team rider told the MotoGP Website (www.motogp.com).
The emphatic win, the 29-year-old's first with Bridgestone tires, gave the Italian his 102nd premier-class podium finish, and left him third in the world championship standings on 72 points behind Pedrosa (81) and fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo (74).
Stoner, who missed out on podium finishes in his last two starts, lies fourth with 56 points.
Honda's Pedrosa, the only rider to mount the podium in all four races this year, was happy with second place.
"In the end I just slowed down because I saw that I couldn't get Valentino, and I just decided to keep the engine alive and finish second," the 22-year-old said.
Stoner was less satisfied, left to mull over the choice of a soft compound tire on a track that was wet for the 250cc and 125cc races but was all but dry by the time of the main event.
"I don't know if we would have been better with a harder compound," the Australian said. "The team worked hard as always, but we have room to improve and I'm not entirely satisfied with this result."
Stoner passed pole sitter Colin Edwards in the charge off the grid, but the American regained the lead after the first bend. As Rossi and Pedrosa fought out the lead, Edwards settled into third position but cost himself a podium finish by running very wide on one corner, dropping back to seventh.
Lorenzo, who qualified fourth on his Yamaha despite suffering a fractured left ankle after being thrown off his bike in practice on Friday, finished fourth after a late surge on the day of his 21st birthday.
Finland's Mika Kallio extended his lead in the 250cc world championship by winning his race ahead of KTM teammate Hiroshi Aoyama. Mattia Pasini on an Aprilia was third.
Yuki Takahashi of Honda was comfortably in third place in the closing stages, but ran very wide on the final turn due to an apparent mechanical problem. Alvaro Bautista of Aprilia slid off while leading the race after eight laps.
Italy's Andrea Iannone won the 125cc race aboard an Aprilia, ahead of Frenchman Mike Di Meglio for Ajo Derbi and Hungary's Gabor Talmacsi for Aprilia. Simone Corsi of Aprilia was a casualty after six laps but still leads the championship standings ahead of four riders separated by just two points.
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily May 5, 2008)