Mike Stevens | Aug 17, 2009

ITALIAN SUPERSTAR VALENTINO ROSSI has extended his lead in the MotoGP title race after cruising to victory at the Czech Grand Prix in Brno.

Rossi and championship rival Jorge Lorenzo were engaged in a stunning battle in the opening period of the race, as the six-time premier class champion and his Yamaha teammate exchanged the lead and fastest laps to surge ahead.

The on-track skirmish ended on lap 18 when Lorenzo lost the front-end of his bike and slid into the gravel, handing Rossi victory and a 50-point lead in the championship standings.

Rossi said: "When Jorge overtook me I thought 'now we will have another big battle' like so many times this year. I felt strong and I was ready.

"But unfortunately Jorge made a mistake; he lost the front and crashed. After that was relaxed, I rode around like a tourist - looking at everything!"

After lapping slower than Lorenzo in Sunday morning practice, Rossi revealed he and his engineers were forced to change the bike set-up before the race, making his task all the more difficult.

"We tried a modification to close the gap with Jorge, who in practice was faster than us, so we began the race a little bit blind. I got a good start and tried to push like a devil," he said.

"In the first two or three laps I knew the bike was working well. I was waiting for the battle with Jorge, but I still made it hard work for him to catch me."


Meanwhile, Yamaha Tech 3 rider James Toseland has backed Casey Stoner’s decision to take an extended break from the MotoGP series as he attempts to overcome a mystery illness.

Toseland told Press Association Sport that Stoner’s acted sensibly in choosing to miss the next three races due to the extreme physical strain of motorcycle racing.

"He's been there or thereabouts all year but if he had stayed fit I'm sure he'd be even closer to the top. Once Ducati made that bad decision to ride on wet tyres at Donington he knew his title hopes were gone so now he needs to get fit for next year," he said.

"Riding at these speeds is dangerous enough at the best of times but when you are not 100 percent right it's even more so."

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