Crash gives Lorenzo the extra edge

Spaniard wins third successive race and the 23-year-old extends championship lead with victory at 'home track'.

Jorge Lorenzo maintained his dominance in MotoGP as he cruised to his third successive victory at the Catalan Grand Prix yesterday. The Yamaha rider held off a challenge by fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner's Ducati to triumph and extend his lead in the championship to 52 points.

Lorenzo, who had battled early on with Andrea Dovizioso, the Honda rider, before the Italian crashed out, said that the triumph had not come easily for him. "It was a really difficult race because the temperature was so hot and my front tyre was sliding very much," Lorenzo said in the post-race press conference. "Dovizioso was behind me for a lot of laps and was pushing me very hard. "I thought he could remain there until the very last lap. But he crashed and I won."

The pair had traded the lead before Dovizioso came off his bike at the La Caixa curve after he had lost front end grip. From there on Lorenzo, 23, was able to cruise home, coming in four seconds ahead of Pedrosa to win at what he feels is his home track for the first time. He had missed out on winning in Barcelona 12 months ago after being passed by his teammate Valentino Rossi at the final corner, and he was delighted to have gone one better this time.

"Of course it is very special," Lorenzo added. "Last year I was happy, but not completely happy because Valle [Rossi] beat me in the last corner. I'm glad I can finally win in my home circuit." With Rossi still out injured as he recovers from the broken leg that he suffered at the Italian Grand Prix last month, Lorenzo is looking unstoppable in his quest to be Spain's first world champion since Alex Criville in 1999.

He extended his advantage over nearest challenger Pedrosa, who was relieved to finish at all after suffering a big scare at the start on his Honda. The Spaniard found his brakes slow to react as he tried to slow for the first corner after making a rapid getaway to move up from fourth to first, and he ran wide before returning to the track. "The start went really well and I was leading," he said in his post-race televised interview.

"Then at the end of the straight I had a big shaking at the front. I went to brake and there were no brakes. My heart was out. "I started to really pump the front brake and finally it got in. I was [off the track] so I had to take it slowly to avoid getting a penalty. Then I could recover some places." He had inherited second when his Dovizioso went out, and then held off a fierce challenge from Stoner, the Australian rider.

Despite losing more ground to Lorenzo, Pedrosa was content with his day: "Second is not bad after what happened at the start." Randy de Puniet was fourth on his privateer Honda bike, with Alvaro Bautista fifth. The next round of the championship is in Germany on July 18 at the Sachsenring. * Compiled by Graham Caygill, with agencies