x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Lorenzo's fall boosts Rossi

The world champion extends title advantage with the chasing Spaniard now 50 points adrift in standings after crashing out soon after taking the lead.

Yamaha's Valentino Rossi crosses the finish line to win the Czech Grand Prix at the Masaryk circuit in Brno.
Yamaha's Valentino Rossi crosses the finish line to win the Czech Grand Prix at the Masaryk circuit in Brno.

Valentino Rossi extended his advantage at the top of the championship standings after winning yesterday's Czech Republic Grand Prix as his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo crashed out while battling with the Italian for the lead late in the race. The world champion now has a 50-point cushion over the second-placed Lorenzo after the Spaniard lost control of his bike on the 18th lap as he tried to fight off a passing manoeuvre from Rossi having taken the lead a lap earlier.

Lorenzo went around the outside of Rossi at turn three but carried too much speed into the corner and lost his front end and went into the gravel, allowing Rossi to coast to victory. A jubilant Rossi said: "For us it was a great race. After the warm-up we made some modifications to give me more feeling in the front, and I made a perfect race. "When he [Lorenzo] overtook me I thought 'OK, now we start the battle'. Unfortunately he crashed, but it's good for us - 50 points is a big lead, we are happy."

Rossi was beaten off the line from pole by Honda's Dani Pedrosa, but passed him at turn three on the first lap to take the lead. Lorenzo got past Pedrosa on lap four and the Yamaha duo then pulled away into a race of their own, with Rossi looking as if he had the edge on Lorenzo. But the Spaniard raised his pace and overtook Rossi on lap 17, but then made his costly mistake a lap later which has left him with a tall order if he is to deny his teammate a seventh title.

Pedrosa finished a distant second, 11.766secs adrift of Rossi, while Toni Elias completed the podium as the Gresini rider rode superbly to hold off Andrea Dovizioso's Honda and Loris Capirossi's Suzuki. Kawasaki rider Marco Melandri and Ducati's Mika Kallio had a spectacular crash on the penultimate lap as they battled for eighth place. gcaygill@thenational.ae