Motorcycling: Pedrosa races away to close gap on Rossi

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The Independent Online

The 22-year-old Spaniard Dani Pedrosa maintained the pressure on Valentino Rossi in the MotoGP world championship yesterday when he led the Catalunya round from the first corner to record his second win of the season. Pedrosa fired his 800cc Repsol Honda down the 1km straight on the Barcelona circuit at almost 200mph to lead Rossi's Fiat Yamaha over the line by 2.806 seconds.

It probably could have been a lot more, as Pedrosa had led by almost 10 seconds at one stage – an almost unheard-of advantage in a sport renowned for close finishes. Rossi still comes to the next round at the British Grand Prix at Donington Park as the championship leader but by only seven points from Pedrosa. "It was a fantastic race in front of my home fans," Pedrosa said. "I've won 125 and 250cc grand prix races here before, so I was very happy to add a MotoGP victory to them."

Reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner battled for second spot with Rossi for many laps, but the rear wheel of his Marlboro Ducati kept trying to step out, and he had to settle for third. James Toseland thrilled British fans by battling to his fourth sixth place in seven outings on his Tech 3 Yamaha, despite being nudged off the track by Rossi early in the race. Toseland had to veer on to the asphalt outside the first corner which forced him to drop down to 11th place.

"I tried to overtake him and he released the brakes, I released the brakes, he released the brakes and then he went a bit wide," Rossi said. In other words, that's racing. But Toseland hacked away at some of MotoGP's biggest names, including former world champions Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki), to hoist himself to seventh in the championship table.