"In Italiano for this race we say ‘mamma mia,' because was a fantastic great battle," Valentino Rossi said after the best race of the 800cc era on the majestic Montmelo circuit north of Barcelona.Rossi had beaten teammate Jorge Lorenzo in a mano-a-mano duel, the Italian outwitting the Mallorcan with a surprise attack in the final corner before the run to the stripe. Diving in on the inside of the sweeping downhill right, Rossi did all he could to hold his line and fend off Lorenzo by .095 secs. before a stunned crowd of 88,500 who'd watched the 25-lap battle in scorching 100 degree heat.Rossi's second win of the season tied him with Lorenzo and Casey Stoner, an ailing third today, at two apiece. More surprising was that, six races into the 17 race season, the three best riders are tied on points at 106. Rossi nominally leads the championship by virtue of two second places to one for Lorenzo and none for Stoner." Today the two Yamahas are like flying on this track," Rossi said. "So after some laps I know I have to fight with Jorge and was a great fight to the end. More or less we have the same pace, so I'm not sure of the result to the end."You know, the two greatest battles in the last year is with these two guys, with Casey in Laguna and with Jorge here," he said at the post-race news conference, "but are two different races, because unfortunately Casey in Laguna don't arrive to the end, so I'm able to make the last five laps relaxed. Here is the last breath to the last corner and the last overtake was fantastic."So I have to thank you Yamaha for a great bike, and all my team. And I want to give this victory to Jeremy Burgess, because yesterday his mom passed away. So a big kiss to Jerry for sure, without you I don't arrive to 99 victories."The 99th win of his career edges him ever closer to the century mark, a number he wanted to reach at his home GP in Mugello one race ago. But he was beaten by Stoner and Lorenzo in that race and had to continue his support here in Spain."It's important, especially because we are close to 100 and after Jerez arrive to 98 and have the possibility to arrive to 100 in Mugello," he said. "And on the paper have Le Mans and Mugello, where last year I won with the same bike and the same tires. But, you know, the paper don't say the truth. And make a mistake. I mean, to think that is not easy, but possible, because here is a great battle and every day you have to give the maximum for stay in front. So, arrive to 99 is fantastic. I hope arrive to 100 as soon as possible, but the target is win the championship, and to win sometimes you have also to arrive behind."

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Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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