Marc Marquez took his sixth consecutive MotoGP victory of the season to extend his championship lead after a thrilling battle with Jorge Lorenzo around the Mugello circuit in Italy on Sunday.
Marquez prevailed after a terrific battle with the 27-year-old as the pair exchanged first place for the final laps and pushed each other right to the finish line.
Veteran Valentino Rossi finished a well-beaten third and was never really in with any chance of winning on the occasion of his 300th Grand Prix.
Lorenzo started brilliantly from third on the grid on his Yamaha, taking the lead before the first corner and extending it as Pramac Racing's Andrea Iannone held Marquez up in third.
Iannone also had a terrific start and managed to cause the 21-year-old superstar a few early problems, but not for long.
#MotoGP Lorenzo leads on lap 2 after a great start by Iannone who is now second, Marquez third. Rossi up to 4th from 10th!— MotoGP™ (@MotoGP) June 1, 2014
The GP standings leader was not to be denied, moving up into second early on in the race and chasing down Lorenzo on his Repsol Honda.
Rossi managed to work his way through the field from his lowly qualifying position, but he could not quite get in touch with Marquez. Before the weekend, many had been predicting a potentially epic battle between the Italian and the young Spaniard, but unfortunately it did not materialize.
Marquez sat just behind Lorenzo for much of the race but it always looked as though he could take the lead at will whenever he wanted to.
Indeed it proved as, with seven laps to go, Marquez took advantage of a slight mistake from Lorenzo as the elder Spaniard dropped slightly into the dirt.
However, Marquez did not simply cruise away after that, Lorenzo retaking the lead moments later as the pair of racers battled it out for the top spot on the podium.
#MotoGP - 4 Laps left - Another duel between the top 2! Awesome battle! Lorenzo remains 1st— Moto Race Feed (@MotoRaceFeed) June 1, 2014
Lorenzo, winner on this circuit in the three previous years, caused Marquez problems rarely seen this season, but the youngster eventually prevailed after taking the lead at the beginning of the final lap.
Marquez's teammate Dani Pedrosa, starting from fourth, seemed to struggle somewhat and ended up losing some ground in the title fight. He finished fourth, having dropped back in the field from the start.
While Marquez took his sixth consecutive pole of the season in qualifying, his rival Rossi qualified poorly, only managing 10th place in front of his home crowd on his Yamaha; an error in tyre choice left him really struggling, per CNN:
It was the wrong decision, I felt really bad with the softer front and I was unable to improve my lap time.
It's a great shame, because I had a good potential and could have started on the front, my pace is good with the bike, but it's like this. Tomorrow from the fourth row everything will be harder and more difficult.
Next up on the race calendar is Marquez's home race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya where he will be expected to perform in front of his fans.
Based on this performance, he has enough experience and skill to cope with the home pressure. However, Lorenzo's brilliant performance to take second shows Marquez can be challenged.
Here are the updated standings following Sunday's race in Italy:
|7||Aleix Espargaro||Forward Yamaha||SPA||44|
|18||Colin Edwards||Forward Yamaha||USA||8|