Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi took over the MotoGP World Championship lead with his first victory of the year, and sixth career win, in the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.Runner-up the first two races, Rossi first took Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner for second-he made the pass stick on lap seven after Stoner negated a sixth lap pass-before stalking race leader Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda). Rossi took the lead from the Spaniard on the 18th of 27 laps in the right hand Nieto Corner. Then the reigning world champion stretched his lead incrementally lap by lap, denying the Spaniard a victory in front of his fellow countrymen.The margin of victory was 7.807 seconds."Yes, is a great race, very funny, but also difficult, because in the first laps I was quite behind, especially from Dani (Pedrosa) and Casey (Stoner), and after I come back, have a great fight with Casey," he said. "And when I was able to arrive at second place, Dani was already a little bit more than one second ahead. And I know in that situation Dani's always very difficult to catch. So I try to stay concentrated, to push."Have one part of the race where I don't gain a lot. But lap by lap I was able to improve my pace, to stay very constant and especially my bike today work very well, the setting is OK. I'm so fast with the sliding tire."And I was able to arrive to Dani, overtake and have another nine, ten laps to the end. So I try to stay concentrated, I know I have a great pace. And is possible arrive at the victory. Win here at Jerez is fantastic and is always a great pleasure, a lot of fans, a great Sunday."Said Pedrosa, "Yes, I really want to win, but I knew it was very difficult because Valentino (Rossi) was very strong; already on Friday we see he was very fast. So I just try to make my race and then to see what was at the end the results, because coming from all that problems we had still it's unbelievable for me to be on the podium. I'm very, very happy and also surprised because the race I did it was very good and I'm happy to be on the podium."Ducati Marlboro's Stoner finished third to take his first ever podium in Jerez. Stoner had been under late pressure from pole-sitter Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) until the Spaniard lost the front end and crashed in a right-hander on the 24th of 27 laps. Lorenzo was unable to continue and rode disconsolately back to the pits.Stoner had been troubled by front end issues from the start and was doing his best to stay in front of the Spaniard."I lost the front a few too many times and just decided to try and stay ahead of Jorge (Lorenzo)  and then he started catching and I thought it was game over and the podium was almost gone," Stoner said. "So I decided to fight as long as I could until the dying  stages. And in those laps, almost one time every lap in one different corner I was losing the front end, so I was almost ready to give up that and back off the pace a few tenths and Jorge crashed."

Lorenzo's reign atop the championship lasted one race. Rossi took over the lead with 65 points to 54 for Stoner, while the Spaniards, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, are tied with 41.Frenchman Randy De Puniet finished fourth, his best yet for the LCR Honda team. De Puniet was 21.386 secs. behind Stoner and just in front of the best fight of the day, a three-way battle for fifth that went to Hayate Racing's Marco Melandri (Kaw). Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi was sixth and Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards seventh. The trio battled for the duration, with the final order settled when Capirossi passed Edwards for sixth on the 25th lap.Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso recovered from an early off-track excursion to finish eighth. The Italian was running fifth on the eighth lap when he ran into the gravel trap, dropping to 16th. He recovered eight places and was closing in on Edwards at the flag.San Carlo Honda Gresini's Toni Elias was alone in ninth, with Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen rounding out the top ten.Then came MotoGP rookie Yuki Takahashi on the Scot Racing Team MotoGP Honda, followed by Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3's James Toseland and San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex De Angelis.Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden took the last point in 15th place, one better than Pramac Racing's rookie Niccolo Canepa.

MotoGP:1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)3. Casey Stoner (Ducati)4. Randy De Puniet (Honda)5. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki)6. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)8. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)9. Toni Elias (Honda)10. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)11. Sete Gibernau (Ducati)12. Yuki Takahashi (Honda)13. James Toseland (Yamaha)14. Alex De Angelis (Honda)15. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)16. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati)

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By Cycle News Staff

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