Seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi showed he’s back to his best as he became the fourth different winner in the four races so far of the MotoGP season in Shanghai this morning.
After an early battle with Dani Pedrosa, once he’d caught and passed the Spaniard, he held on to keep the Repsol Honda rider second. Taking the final podium spot was defending champion Casey Stoner, who gets his title hopes back on track.
An heroic ride by Rossi’s injured team-mate, Jorge Lorenzo, saw him finish in fourth just off the podium despite having to be bump started by his team after stalling on the warm-up lap.
Britain’s James Toseland finished the race in 12th in his first race at the Shanghai circuit.
Although there was no sign of rain again it was declared a wet race and the riders had headed out on track with a mix of slick and wet tyres.
Casey Stoner took the lead into the first corner, but pole man Colin Edwards got past the Ducati rider to take the lead, while Valentino Rossi slotted into third.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took third from Rossi and then sent Casey Stoner down to third. Whilst on a charge he also made first place his own with Edwards going to second.
Britain’s James Toseland was ninth on the second lap while 2006 champion Nicky Hayden was fifth.
By the end of lap two, Pedrosa had already built up a 1.1sec lead. James Toseland had lost a place to Stoner’s Ducati team-mate, Marco Melandri.
With Fiat Yamaha’s Rossi now second by the end of lap three he set about clawing back the lead of Dani Pedrosa as he desperately fought for his first victory of the season.
By the end of lap five the gap was down to 0.47, but the Italian made his move at the beginning of lap six to take the lead.
Colin Edwards looked happy in third as a battle commenced between Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden. But Edwards took the wrong turning at a hairpin and went down to seventh to put the defending champion in third.
Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen headed into the pits on lap seven with a clutch problem and this allowed Toseland to head up to ninth just behind the injured Jorge Lorenzo.
Marco Melandri was having a cracking race with Andrea Dovizioso in sixth with sparks flying off his knee sliders as he pushed hard round the corners. And once he’d got the better of Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden was the next rider to be caught and passed by the charging Italian.
Rossi and Pedrosa dipped below the two minute mark for the first time as the pair continuull away from third placed Stoner, who was seven seconds behind.
At the end of lap 12, Stoner was more than eight seconds behind leader Valentino Rossi and second-placed Dani Pedrosa while Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland was 12th.
Pedrosa set the fastest lap of the race at 1:59.6 on lap 13 which kept him within touching distance of leader Rossi.
Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo must have been pumping on adrenalin as he took Colin Edwards and Andrea Dovizioso on lap 14 and then the following lap he took Marco Melandri’s Ducati to go fourth.
Lap 17 saw Valentino Rossi post another fastest lap with a 1:59.331 as he tried to get rid of Dani Pedrosa. But the gap between the pair remained less than half a second. But the determined Italian upped the pressure again by posting a 1:59.273 on lap 18 to take the circuit record.
The gap back to Pedrosa was up to over a second for the first time by the end of lap 19, while Casey Stoner was over 14 seconds behind the Spaniard.
By the penultimate lap Rossi was 3.6secs ahead of Pedrosa, while Casey Stoner had pulled back a bit of time at 12.56secs behind in third. Britain’s James Toseland was still holding in 12th meanwhile.
But Valentino Rossi showed he’s back to form as he took the victory 3.8secs ahead of Pedrosa with Casey Stoner also seemingly getting back on track with the final podium place.
China MotoGP race results:
1 Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha
2 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda
3 Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro
4 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha
5 Marco Melandri ITA Ducati Marlboro
6 Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda
7 Colin Edwards USA Tech 3 Yamaha
8 Toni Elias SPA Alice Ducati
9 Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla suzuki
10 Shinya Nakano JPN San Carlo Gresini Honda
11 Andrea Dovizioso ITA JiR Team Scot Honda
12 James Toseland GBR Tech 3 Yamaha
13 Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda
14 John Hopkins USA Kawasaki
15 Sylvain Guintoli FRA Alice Ducati
16 Alex de Angelis RSM San Carlo Gresini Honda
17 Anthony West AUS Kawasaki