Valentino Rossi ended his seven-race winless streak with a vintage display in the Pramac Grand Prix of China, repeating his 2005 triumph at the Shanghai International Circuit to take his first victory since the 2007 Portuguese Grand Prix last September. He battled with new MotoGP World Championship leader Dani Pedrosa for the majority of the race.
Starting from second on the grid, Rossi was involved in an inseparable front group for the opening laps. Eager to avoid a breakaway from Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa, the five-time MotoGP World Champion matched his Spanish rival lap-for-lap before finally sticking a move on him the ninth time around the track. After assuming control, he upped the pace to take his first victory with Bridgestone tires, setting a new circuit record of 1´59.273 on his 18th lap.
Rossi lies just nine points behind Pedrosa in the standings after becoming the fourth winner in as many races in 2008. Pedrosa tried hard to assume the early advantage, but eventually finished second to continue as the only rider to have placed on the podium at every race so far.
(L to R) Pedrosa (2nd), Rossi (1st) and Stoner (3rd)
Returning to the rostrum after two races away, 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner completed the top three comprised of each of the previous Shanghai winners. Last year’s victor was unable to play a part in the battle for the win, but now finds himself in a much healthier position in the championship despite not being completely satisfied with the final outcome.
In a result as miraculous as it was mercurial, Jorge Lorenzo took fourth place with a late surge back up the field, playing through the pain of a fractured ankle and other assorted injuries on the occasion of his 21st birthday. Off the podium for the first time this season, the Spaniard nonetheless received a hero’s welcome on his return to the Fiat Yamaha garage. He is now second in the overall standings, seven points behind arch rival Pedrosa.
Marco Melandri had his best result since joining Ducati, in fifth place ahead of 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden. A tightly bunched group of Tech 3 Yamaha pole man Colin Edwards, Alice Team’s Toni Elias, Suzuki veteran Loris Capirossi and San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Shinya Nakano could have seen any number of combinations to complete the top ten, whilst the only retiree from the race was Chris Vermeulen on the second Rizla Suzuki GSV-R.
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