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Lorenzo takes MotoGP points lead

4/26/2009

TOKYO -- Spain's Jorge Lorenzo led a
Yamaha one-two by powering to victory over MotoGP world champion
Valentino Rossi in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

Lorenzo's second win since moving up from 250cc last year
gave him a one-point lead over Rossi in the world championship
standings.

The 21-year-old, who had been suffering with a cold in the
build-up to the race at Motegi's Twin Ring circuit, has 41
points to the Italian's 40 after two rounds.

Rossi began on pole after Saturday's qualifying had been
washed out by rain and combined practice times used to determine
grid positions.

However, Lorenzo roared past the six-time premier-class
world champion on lap nine and finished the 24-lap race in 43
minutes 47.238 seconds, 1.304 seconds ahead of Rossi.

It was Lorenzo's second MotoGP win following his maiden
triumph in Portugal last year and gave him a perfect boost
before his home race at Jerez next weekend.

"It was a difficult race," Lorenzo told reporters after
planting a flag reading 'Lorenzo's Land' in the gravel on his
victory lap.

"I didn't have a good start but then I picked up the pace
and passed Valentino. I opened a little gap but he was pushing
me very hard so I had to ride to my limit to get the victory."

Honda's Dani Pedrosa, who rocketed from 11th on the grid to
second at the end of the first lap, took third place following a
see-saw battle with Rossi for second.

"It was a very physical race," said Rossi. "I made a great
start but at one part of the race I was not able to ride like I
wanted.

"I had some problems and I was not able to ride fast enough
to pull away. After I fell behind Jorge I was battling with
Dani.

"In the last part of the race I was able to pick up my pace
and come back but unfortunately Lorenzo was too far ahead."

Ducati's 2007 world champion Casey Stoner, who won the
season-opener in Qatar earlier this month, finished fourth after
struggling with front brake trouble.

The Australian had a poor start from second but is only
three points behind Lorenzo in the riders' standings on 38.

Rossi predicted a wide open title race with Honda pair
Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso also in the picture.

"I think this year's championship will become very
interesting," said Rossi, who had criticized the decision to
hold the Japanese race in April because of the threat of rain.

"We've already had four riders battling for wins. Second
place is not a victory but 20 points is important for the
championship."