Motorcycling: Rossi edges ding-dong battle

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Valentino Rossi paid tribute to the skill of fellow MotoGP racer Loris Capirossi after the pair fought a terrific battle in Malaysia yesterday.

Rossi and his compatriot swapped the lead several times during the final four laps before Rossi eventually edged ahead at Sepang.

Camel Yamaha's Rossi admitted that if he had lost he would not have minded too much following one of the best races of his career. "I pray every week for a race like this," said Rossi. "Even if I had finished second the battle was incredible. It was very aggressive but very correct, we enjoyed it."

Capirossi also enjoyed the race and said there was no shame in taking second place. "When you have a battle like that, to lose is not a problem for me," said the Ducati Marlboro rider. "The race was really hard. In the last couple of laps I knew Valentino was faster."

Spain's Dani Pedrosa defied the pain of a badly gashed knee to take third ahead of his Repsol Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden. The American Hayden saw his championship lead over Pedrosa cut to 22 points with Rossi now four points further back with four races remaining.

The British rider James Ellison finished the race in 16th for Tech 3 Yamaha.

Spain's Jorge Lorenzo won the 250cc race on the Fortuna Aprilia to increase his championship lead to 12 points. The 125cc race went to the Spaniard Alvaro Bautista on the Master Aspar Aprilia and he heads the standings by 74 points.