RIO DE JANEIRO: Italy's reigning world champion Valentino Rossi effectively sealed his bid for a third straight world title after winning the Brazilian GP, the 12th of the 16-race world championship here on Saturday.
The flamboyant Italian, who started the race in pole position on his Honda, held off main championship rival Sete Gibernau, on a Honda, to increase his lead over the Spaniard to 51 points.
Gibernau finished second to keep in close contention with Japanese Makoto Tamada, also on a Honda, finishing third.
Rossi started the race with a 46-point lead over Gibernau and his latest win –his fourth victory in a row and his sixth this season –means that with only four races remaining he has taken a significant step towards defending his GP crown.
And the Italian later admitted that he wasn't about to reveal any material advantages to his rivals –including the composition of a back tyre that he has kept secret to the extent that he forbade his supplier, Michelin, from talking about.
“I'm fed up at being copied,” said Rossi.
A four-time world champion in the different categories, Rossi showed his class from the outset of the race, toying with Gibernau in what appeared to be a high-speed game of cat and mouse.
The other contenders, such as veteran Italian rider Max Biaggi, could only look on as Rossi and Gibernau tussled throughout the 24-lap race.
In the ninth lap Rossi took a more serious approach to the race, speeding past Gibernau and building on a lead which simply grew as the race progressed.
Rossi even had time in the latter stages of the race to carry out what appeared to be slies with his rear wheel.
Gibernau, who was simply outclassed on the day, still boosted his championship account with much-needed points and will undoubtedly be happy at having pushed the threat of Biaggi even further back.
Biaggi sits in third place overall behind Gibernau.
Frenchman Olivier Jacque, riding a Yamaha, was forced to abandon after crashing and sustaining an injury.
Jacque, who had fallen twice in testing on Friday evening, is suffering from a left ankle injury and pulled out on the seventh lap. – AFP