Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi took a giant step toward retaining the MotoGP World Championship by pressuring teammate Jorge Lorenzo to crash out of the lead before a crowd of 138,000 late in the Czech Grand Prix in Brno.The race shaped up into a two-rider battle early on, with Rossi leading Lorenzo, and Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa slowly dropping back after briefly leading. The battle didn't involve position changes, rather the Yamaha riders swapped fast lap honors over and over.Lorenzo set the fastest race lap on the 16th of 22 to close down to .139 of a second on Rossi and on the next lap he took the lead in the left hand turn three, then closed the following turn four so Rossi couldn't retaliate.On the next lap, in the very same corner, Lorenzo was taking a wide line when he lost the front, tumbling into the gravel trap. Rossi finished the lap with nearly 15 secs. on Pedrosa and, after a series of wheelies, finished with a margin of victory of 11.766 seconds.The win was Rossi's fifth of the season and 102 overall. It was also his 170th podium, breaking a tie with the previous record-holder, the legendary Giacomo Agostini.The more important number is 212, which is Rossi's points tally, and 50 more than Lorenzo with six races to run. The absent Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro), home recovering from a fatiguing virus in Australia, is third with 150. Pedrosa, who had his best Brno MotoGP finish, is fourth at 135.Rossi first thanked his team, "because also this weekend we did a great job from Friday. During the practice we're struggling a little bit with the front feeling and we were quite fast, but not enough. But after the warm-up we make another small modify that give me better feeling with the front tire and I know that today is very tough, because Jorge [Lorenzo] in the practice go with a fantastic rhythm."So I try to make the perfect race, great start, stay on the front and push like a devil, more than 100 percent for 10 laps and so I make to him the hard work. And when he overtake me, like six to the end, I was ready for the battle, because I feel confident from the bike, so I think is possible make a good show. But after in turn three he lose the front, so is very bad for Jorge, is a pity. But is good for us, because now we have 50 points and is a long way to the end, but is a good advantage."We have to keep pushing, to stay concentrated, and thanks to Jerry (Burgess), to my team, and to Yamaha, because today the bike was perfect."Pedrosa admitted that he didn't have the pace of the Yamahas. "No, unfortunately not. I was more confident for the race. I thought my rhythm was better, but in the race I couldn't go more fast than I was and slowly they started to go away. Then I was third alone, just trying to keep the pace and arrive to the end. But then Lorenzo made a mistake and I was second. So for this point it was good, but unfortunately we were not that fast."So tomorrow [when the teams have a rare in-season test day and the Hondas are expected to test Ohlins suspension] we have important day and we will try to work hard and improve to be more close in the next races."In a battle of Hondas, Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) beat the factory Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso, the Donington Park winner. Elias made the pass on the 19th lap and finished nine seconds behind Pedrosa.The result was bittersweet for the Spaniard, whose first podium of the season came on the same weekend that he was replaced on the Gresini team by Marco Melandri.

 

"Yes, the future is really tough for me," Elias said. "Anyway, I don't think about that, only concentrate with my team to make a good job."All weekend we did a great job. We improve to the last qualifying and finally Jorge crash and give me some present for the podium is here and I'm really happy for that, also for my team, because they are working a lot."But is strange, no, because every year I did some podium and every year I don't have bike, I don't have team. I want to know how many riders don't be in the podium and every year have bike? Everybody have to think a little bit and we will see. I will continue pushing like this in Indianapolis and we will see what happens."Dovi was a close fourth, with Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi a shadow fifth.Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden finished sixth, the best of the Ducatis, after earlier passing Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards.Hayden's teammate for the next three races, Mika Kallio, was two spots behind and within striking distance when he ran into Hayate Racing's Marco Melandri (Kaw), who had the inside line in the final corner of the penultimate lap. Kallio immediately got up and began shoving Melandri, who he thought was at fault. Television replays appeared to show otherwise.The elimination of those two elevated San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex De Angelis to ninth, one up on Monster Yamaha Tech 3's James Toseland.LCR Honda's Randy De Puniet, the Frenchman who was riding with a pin in his broken right ankle, was a distant 10th, with Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen a second back in 11th.Pramac Racing's Niccolo Canepa was ten seconds behind in 12th and the only finisher for the team. Stand-in Michel Fabrizio, of the Ducati Xerox World Superbike team, withdrew on the sixth lap with an arm problem suffered in an earlier World Superbike crash.Scot Honda's Gabor Talmacsi, who attracted a large contingent from his home in Hungary, was the final of the 13 finishers.

Results:

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

3. Toni Elias (Honda)

4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

5. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)

6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

8. Alex De Angelis (Honda)

9. James Toseland (Yamaha)

10. Randy De Puniet (Honda)

11. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)

12. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati)

13. Gabor Talmacsi (Honda)

MotoGP Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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