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Rossi escapes to Mugello seventh heaven.

Valentino Rossi escaped from the pack to claim his magnificent seventh consecutive home Mugello victory in dominant style in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

Rossi, riding under bright sunshine and in front of almost 100,000 trackside fans, got a bad start from pole position and was only fourth through the first sequence of corners, behind Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi.

But The Doctor worked his way clinically forwards, passing Capirossi's Suzuki on the opening lap and immediately closing the slight gap to his title rivals.

Stoner's powerful Ducati got the better of Pedrosa along the home straight on lap 2 of 23, with Rossi dropping the Repsol Honda rider back to third later on the same lap.

The Bridgestone-shod Fiat Yamaha star then took the race lead from Stoner with a clever inside move through a downhill turn and the face painted on the top of Rossi's special Mugello helmet never looked back.

At a track famous for its close slipstreaming battles, Rossi's lead broke two seconds by the halfway mark and the seven-times world champion went on to take his third victory in a row (from six 2008 starts) by that same margin after backing off in the closing stages. It had been 17 years since the last non-Michelin win in the premier-class at Mugello, by Wayne Rainey in 1991 using Dunlop tyres.

Rossi celebrated his 91st grand prix victory by pumping his fist across the finish line before enduring one of his toughest tests of the afternoon when he had to weave his way through the invading fans on the slow down lap.

Perhaps surprisingly, there was no special celebration - although it could be argued that none was needed in such an emotionally charged environment, with the whole of the Mugello home straight packed with fans by the time the podium ceremony took place.

Whilst Rossi rode into the distance, Stoner and Pedrosa had disputed second for much of the race - before Pedrosa once again lost pace away in the closing stages. Ducati may have been denied a Mugello home victory by Rossi once again, but a fighting second for Stoner was welcome reward after several tough rounds.

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