JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain: Italian Valentino Rossi claimed his first victory of the season yesterday in the Moto GP category of the Spanish Grand Prix, the third leg in the world motorcycling championship.
Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, on a Honda, and Australian Casey Stoner on a Ducati finished second and third respectively as Rossi, an eight-time world champion, took the lead of the world championship standings.
Rossi had a consistent and determined performance to thank for his first win of the season, and impressive 98th of his career, that has given him an 11-point overall lead over Stoner.
Rossi now has 65 points, with Stoner, who won the season-opening leg in Qatar, on 54.
Starting fourth on the grid behind Spanish teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner, Rossi overtook the Australian on the sixth of the race’s 27 laps before then trying to chip away at Pedrosa’s advantage.
The Spaniard had led for the first 17 laps of the 4.
423km circuit but on the 18th he could only watch as Rossi slipped past him and into the race lead.
Behind them, as Lorenzo battled to close the gap to Stoner the Spaniard crashed with three laps to go, dropping precious points in the race for the championship title.
Lorenzo, the winner last time out in Japan, is now third on 41 points, with Spanish rival Pedrosa, now in fourth, with the same tally.
Earlier, Japan’s Hiroshi Aoyama powered his Honda to victory in the 250cc category ahead of Spaniard Alvaro Bautista and Italian Marco Simoncelli, who finished third.
Having finished runnerup to Bautista in Japan last week, Aoyama savoured sweet revenge on the Spaniard’s home soil by securing his sixth career win in style.
Aoyama and Bautista attacked in turn when they dueled late in the race but the Japanese rider came over the finish in triumph after capitalising on a late error by his Spanish rival, who took the final bend too wide.
In the 125cc category, 18- year-old Briton Bradley Smith claimed his maiden career win on an Aprilia, cruising to the finish line where he had a healthy lead over Spaniards Sergio Gadea and Marc Marquez.
Category leader Andrea Iannone of Italy crashed on the first lap and although he went on to finish he came home in 19th place and out of the points.
Smith, 18, is now second in the category standings behind Iannone. — AFP