And World Championship lead
Amidst blazing sunshine and starting from pole position at a track where he had been untouchable for the past six years, Valentino Rossi claimed a third consecutive victory of the season in the Gran Premio d´Italia Alice.
The script had
been written, but it was still up to the Fiat Yamaha rider to perform when the lights went out.
Taking the lead from 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner on the fourth lap, Rossi then set about creating a gap between himself and the chasing pack. He did so with a series of increasingly faster times, and eventually crossed the line with a comfortable advantage for Mugello premier class victory number seven. His rivals must now wait another year to attempt to dethrone the `King of Mugello´.
The supporting cast to the Rossi show was headed by Ducati Marlboro rider Stoner, on the podium at Mugello for only the second time in his Grand Prix career. The result helps Stoner make up ground in the MotoGP standings, in which he maintains fourth place but narrows the gap between himself and Jorge Lorenzo.
Second in the World Championship, Dani Pedrosa completed the podium places, having got off to a fantastic start courtesy of his Repsol Honda RC212V launch control. The Spaniard will next week be chasing victory on home soil in Catalunya.
A best result of 2008 for Alex de Angelis was another reason for Italian fans –who had seen home victories in all three classes- to be cheerful, with the San Carlo Honda Gresini man taking fourth place.
The San Marino-born rider was riding what was effectively his local race, and had shown his cards early with the fastest time in the morning warmup.
The Tech 3 Yamaha duo of Colin Edwards and James Toseland were fifth and sixth respectively, ahead of Rizla Suzuki´s front row starter Loris Capirossi and Italian JiR Team Scot rookie Andrea Dovizioso.
Before the halfway point there were a number of riders withdrawing from the action. First out were Marco Melandri and Randy de Puniet, both sliding off track whilst battling amongst themselves. They were followed by Kawasaki rider John Hopkins and, in a blow to his world title chances, second Fiat Yamaha rider Lorenzo.
A lowside by the Spaniard left him with a DNF mark by his name for the first time in his MotoGP career.