Valentino Rossi moved two races clear at the top of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship with his fifth win of the season at Brno on Sunday - the Fiat Yamaha star enjoying an easy ride home after title rival Casey Stoner fell from the lead on lap seven.

Rossi, starting from second on the grid behind Stoner, lost time on the first lap getting past John Hopkins - and looked in danger of allowing the reigning world champion to escape - but the Italian soon found his rhythm and, after halting Stoner's advance at just over one second, had starting to reel in the young Australian when he crashed out.

"I was confident because my bike was fast from Friday practice, and with Jeremy [Burgess] we made a small modification to the front after warm-up to allow me to be a bit faster in some sections, and it worked very well," explained Rossi.

"I lost about half a second getting past Hopkins at the start and Casey was incredibly fast at that stage, like he'd already done ten laps!

"For a short time I was worried but then, after two laps, I understood that my bike was working very well and that I was fast enough to try to catch him. I had closed a little bit already and gradually the red bike was becoming a bit bigger in front of me, and I think this is when he started to push harder and made his mistake.

"I was anticipating a very hard battle if I did catch him, so when I saw the red bike slide out I could hardly believe it - this made things a lot easier for me!" smiled the Italian.

Indeed, the pair had already opened out an eleven second gap from the chasing pack by the time of Stoner's accident and Rossi was left to ride the remaining 15 laps alone, eventually finishing 15 seconds clear of Toni Elias.

"After [Stoner's fall] I just enjoyed riding my bike; my Bridgestone tyres worked very well until the end and my M1 felt very good. Of course I can't count this as a complete victory because Casey fell, and I am sorry for him, but this is racing and I have to be happy with this result," he said.

The seven-time world champion's 67th premier-class victory takes him within one race of the all-time premier-class record, held by his compatriot Giacomo Agostini. Rossi is now 50 points clear of Stoner with six rounds to go, while Dani Pedrosa has slipped a further 15 points back in third.

"We are 50 points clear which is a lot and I am very excited to be going to Misano in this situation," admitted The Doctor. "However we know that 50 points is still not always enough when you have someone as strong as Casey and so we won't relax."

But Stoner has now fallen whilst racing Rossi for the last two GPs in a row, after a braking error ended their fantastic Laguna Seca duel.

"It's clear that Valentino did a very good job at the start not to let Stoner get too far ahead, and he was starting to make up ground and put some pressure on him when he unfortunately crashed," he said "We need to keep going like this and not lose our concentration, but we've had two very good races and we are confident that we are in good shape."

Rossi will now join his MotoGP rivals in remaining at Brno for two days of important post-race testing - when he hopes to make his M1 even faster through the use of new electronics.

"We will try some new electronics in order to help me open the throttle earlier and also, of course, test some Bridgestone tyres," he stated.

Rossi's Michelin-shod team-mate Jorge Lorenzo made the best of a difficult situation, riding from last on the grid to 10th.


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