Stoner hands it to Rossi


Elias leads Hopkins, Vermeulen

It was as much of a tire war as a rider or motorcycle battle at Brno in the Czech Republic on the weekend, as Bridgestone took eight of the top 10 finishing positions. 2006 champion Nicky Hayden was recuperating at home from a foot injury he suffered in an X-Games incident, and was no doubt at least slightly relieved to see that he’d picked a good race to miss.

The top Michelin riders were Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Scot Honda) and Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) in ninth and 10th places, while factory Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, third in the championship hunt, could only manage a 15th place behind the Tech 3 Yamaha squad of James Toseland and Colin Edwards, all three on Michelins. It was so bad Michelin issued an official apology to the teams on their tires — that’s really, seriously, awfully bad.

The race itself basically ended early, as Casey Stoner and his Marlboro Ducati took off from pole (his sixth in a row) but crashed while leading at one-third distance, handing the point over to Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, who then strolled off into the distance. Rossi eventually finished more than 15 seconds ahead of the field, which featured a seriously unusual finishing order. Second went to Tony Elias, for heaven’s sake, on the satellite Alice Team Ducati, while third went to ex-Ducati guy Loris Capirossi on the Rizla Suzuki — Suzuki’s third successive podium, and unless my memory is as bad as my wife thinks it is, Capirossi’s first of the season.

Fourth went to Shinya Nakano (San Carlo Gresini Honda), while Anthony West (whose Moto GP career is certainly teetering on a very frail bubble) took his Kawasaki to fifth, by far his best result of the season.

Rossi now has a 50-point lead over Stoner, which is going to be a hard pull for the tough little Aussie to overcome. Stoner said, "The crash came out of the blue, that corner was an easy one but I lost the front and it happened very quickly, very suddenly … we will look at the data but … it was my mistake! We knew that we needed to win this race – and more – in order to close down Valentino’s advantage so this makes the championship very difficult for us."

The rest of the top 10 was filled out by (6) Chris Vermeulen, Rizla Suzuki, (7) Marco Melandri, Marlboro Ducati, and (8) Alex de Angelis, San Carlo Gresini Honda.

Next event in the season is the San Marino GP, August 31 at Misano.

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