Stoner leads with Rossi in chase. Stoner later choked and fell again and Rossi won again
A home victory and the retirement of rival Casey Stoner at Misano left Valentino Rossi one step closer to a sixth MotoGP World Championship, and his fans in celebratory mood amidst the yellow grandstands. The Fiat Yamaha rider was able to avenge his 2007 Misano disappointment and add the circuit to his list of successful tracks, with only the next circuit on the calendar –Indianapolis- missing from his impressive resume.
Rossi was, for the third race in succession, starting from second on the grid for the Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. He could do nothing to stop title rival Stoner from taking the holeshot early, however, as the reigning World Champion established a large gap even before the first time that the riders crossed the start/finish line. Rossi was making up ground by the seventh lap, but the fans were denied a fascinating direct battle between the two when Stoner lost control of his Ducati Desmosedici GP8 and –as he did at Brno two weeks ago- saw his race come to an early conclusion.
From then on, Rossi completed the race in relatively untroubled fashion, bringing his Yamaha M1 home safely and taking his 68th premier class victory, in doing so equaling the record of MotoGP Legend Giacomo Agostini. Four consecutive race victories, a 75 point advantage in the standings and just five events remaining in 2008 mean that `The Doctor´ can now breathe a little easier after this latest triumph.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo made his podium return at Misano with the runner-up spot, his first rostrum finish since the visit to Le Mans back in May. The MotoGP rookie was unable to catch up with his fellow Fiat Yamaha rider, but nonetheless had a comfortable advantage of his own over third place finisher Toni Elias.
Alice Team rider Elias followed his second place at Brno with another rostrum, the first time that he has taken consecutive podiums in the premier class. He held off another Spaniard in Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, whose teammate Nicky Hayden decided to miss both the warm-up and race due to his persistent foot injury. Pedrosa closed the gap between himself and second placed Stoner to just two points.
Chris Vermeulen rounded off the top six for Rizla Suzuki, ahead of James Toseland, Loris Capirossi, Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Melandri and Colin Edwards.
San Marino’s MotoGP representative Alex de Angelis lasted just over a lap of his home race, and his disappointment was shared by LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet, who also hit the ground early on.
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