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`Fantastic day` - Rossi reaches Ago.

Valentino Rossi joined countryman Giacomo Agostini as the most successful premier-class grand prix winner of all-time by recording his 68th victory, in front of his home fans, at Misano on Sunday.

"Today is a truly fantastic day and I can't believe that I have matched Agostini's record!" smiled Valentino. "He was one of my heroes so it's quite incredible to have made it to 68 wins.

"This was quite a difficult weekend for us from the start and there has been the added pressure of a home race, which makes it harder to concentrate because there is so much distraction!

"Mugello has always been 'my' track, even though it's further away from Tavullia, but here, after the bad time last year [when he suffered an engine failure on lap five], we haven't found it so easy."

Rossi's victory once again came at the expense of reigning world champion Casey Stoner, who fell whilst trying to stay ahead of the Italian for the second race in succession, a mistake that means Rossi now holds a huge 75 point lead with five rounds remaining.

Rossi had slipped from second to third in the early stages of the race, behind pole sitter Stoner and a fast starting Dani Pedrosa. With Stoner pulling away, Rossi came close to disaster as he pushed hard to pass Pedrosa on the opening lap.

"I got a good start but then Dani came past me very fast and I then lost a lot of time getting past him and had to take some big risks - I had a big slide!" he confessed. "Once I was past him I could see Casey, although I have to admit that today I wasn't as confident as I was in Brno that I could win."

Rossi was already three seconds behind Stoner when he reached second position and struggled to make an impact on the Desmosedici rider. Rossi was still three seconds behind when Casey lost the front and slid into the gravel on lap eight of 28, but believes a battle was possible had Stoner lasted the distance.

"I kept pushing because it's not in my nature to ride for second place and I think it still could have been a battle; I was very fast once I found my rhythm," insisted Rossi. "Then I saw Casey slide out. I'm sorry for him once again but this is very good for our championship so I am happy for our team."



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