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Rossi powers to Spanish victory

MOTOGP world champion Valentino Rossi powered from fourth on the starting grid to take his first victory of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix yesterday and open an 11-point lead at the top of the overall standings.

The Yamaha rider slipped past early leader Dani Pedrosa with 10 laps left in front of the 120,000 crowd at the Jerez circuit and pulled away to finish the 27-lap race 2.7 seconds clear of the Spaniard's Honda.

Australian Casey Stoner, who won the season-opener in Qatar, was third for Ducati, his first appearance on the podium in Spain.

Victory for Rossi sent the Italian top of the championship standings with 65 points after three rounds. Stoner is second on 54 and Pedrosa tied for third with compatriot and Rossi's teammate Jorge Lorenzo on 41.

Rossi experienced some problems in qualifying on Saturday but was quickest in yesterday's warm-up in calm and sunny conditions and said the Yamaha technicians had managed to fix the setup in time for the race.

"We had to make a big change and without it I certainly wouldn't have won," the six-time premier class world champion said in a television interview.

Lorenzo, who led the standings after his victory in Japan, slid off the track into the gravel with three laps left while attempting to haul in Stoner and was forced to abandon the race.

In the 250cc category, Hiroshi Aoyama of Japan passed Alvaro Bautista of Spain on the final corner to score his first win of the season and take the overall lead.

Defending overall champion Marco Simoncelli of Italy took third and Hector Barbera of Spain was fourth.

Aoyama leads with 58 points, five ahead of Bautista. Barbera is third on 43 points.

In the 125cc category, Bradley Smith of Britain won his first race ahead of Spanish pair Sergio Gadea and Marc Marquez.


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