French MotoGP: Valentino Rossi eases to 90th win

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Valentino Rossi produced a dominant display at the Le Mans MotoGP today to claim his 90th Grand Prix victory to seize the lead in the 2008 world championship.

Once the Italian surged by reigning world champion Casey Stoner on lap eight, Rossi’s 64th premier class win was never in doubt as he eased to a second successive victory for Bridgestone.

The win meant he equalled Spanish legend Angel Nieto’s tally on 90 career wins, and in a fitting tribute, the 61-year-old donned a set of leathers and joined Rossi on the celebration lap.

Nieto, who won his last race in Le Mans in 1985 on an 80cc machine, rode Rossi’s factory Yamaha on the cool down lap while the 29-year-old rode pillion.

Rossi, who now leads the points standings for the first time since Jerez in 2007 and scored his first back-to-back success since 2006, said: “To arrive at 90 wins like this and equal Angel’s record is a dream for me. I had quite a lot of pressure because Angel was waiting with the special leathers to join me on the bike, so I really needed to win!

“It was great to ride with him – I think maybe with some practice he can be as fast as us! 180 victories together on one bike is quite impressive I think! Honestly I didn’t expect to be so fast today but together with Jeremy and my guys we decided to make some small modifications this morning and in the race my M1 and my Bridgestone tyres worked brilliantly from start to finish.

“When is started to rain a little bit I thought “oh no!’ and so I steadied a bit and tried to ride very sweetly; I had such a good rhythm and I really didn’t want to have to change bikes. Luckily the rain soon stopped and I was able to continue in the same way.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt