Stoner beats Rossi to Catalunya win
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, June 10th 2007, 12:50 GMT|
Casey Stoner beat Valentino Rossi to victory in the Catalan Grand Prix after an exceptional race-long battle between the two championship rivals.
The Ducati rider had moved from fourth to second at the start and passed Dani Pedrosa to lead later in the lap, while polesitter Rossi went in the opposite direction and fell to fourth.
The Italian rapidly regained the lost ground, slipping past John Hopkins for third at Turn 5 on the second lap only to run wide, before taking the place permanently at Turn 1 a lap later.
Rossi then closed in on home crowd favourite Pedrosa, taking second into the first corner on lap 11.
Just one lap later Rossi made his first move on Stoner, slicing inside at Turn 5 only to slide wide and lose the lead immediately.
Then on lap 18 Rossi made it past into Turn 4, ran wide again, but dived inside at Turn 5 and this time stayed ahead.
But Stoner retaliated on the pits straight and powered back in front less than a lap later. Rossi braked later on the outside line into Turn 1 and clung onto the lead, but ran wide in the process.
The top three then went through Turn 3 side by side as Pedrosa tried to capitalise on the leaders' battle. Stoner and Rossi took Turn 4 in parallel, with Rossi then going down the inside into Turn 5 only to run wide once again and cede the lead.
He moved back ahead with a surprise move into the fast final corner on lap 20, but Stoner was back in front before the end of the pits straight.
Rossi's last move came on lap 21, as he outbraked Stoner into the first turn and briefly made a break, before the Ducati drafted ahead as they crossed the line two laps later.
Stoner then held on despite countless attacks from Rossi in the remaining two laps, winning by just 0.069 seconds and extending his championship lead to 14 points. Pedrosa finished just three-tenths of a second behind in third.
Hopkins gradually fell away from the top three to earn a solitary fourth, ahead of the outstanding Randy de Puniet, who achieved his best ever MotoGP result despite pain from his badly swollen knee.
The Frenchman escaped an early brush with Toni Elias, the two bikes touching at Turn 1 as Elias tried to regain momentum after running wide in a failed move on Hopkins.
De Puniet and Elias then swapped places several times before the Gresini Honda came to a halt in a cloud of smoke on lap 15, leaving de Puniet to cruise to the flag alone.
Loris Capirossi closed in on the Kawasaki near the end. The Ducati surged from 17th to 10th at the start, then steadily picked through the upper midfield pack to finish on de Puniet's tail. Chris Vermeulen followed them home.
Alex Barros beat Marco Melandri to eighth, with Nicky Hayden finishing just behind Colin Edwards in 11th after losing ground at the start.
Classified: Pos Rider Bike Time 1. Casey Stoner Ducati 43:16.907 2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha + 0.069 3. Daniel Pedrosa Honda + 0.390 4. John Hopkins Suzuki + 7.814 5. Randy de Puniet Kawasaki + 17.853 6. Loris Capirossi Ducati + 19.409 7. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki + 19.495 8. Alex Barros Ducati + 24.862 9. Marco Melandri Honda + 24.963 10. Colin Edwards Yamaha + 35.348 11. Nicky Hayden Honda + 36.301 12. Makoto Tamada Yamaha + 38.720 13. Alex Hofmann Ducati + 40.934 14. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha + 44.399 15. Shinya Nakano Honda + 54.103 16. Kenny Roberts Jr KR + 59.655 17. Carlos Checa Honda +1:02.315 18. Kurtis Roberts KR +1:03.322 Not classified: Rider Bike Laps Toni Elías Honda 14