Valentino Rossi snatched an early lead in the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril on Sunday, leading the field to his fourth win at the circuit in as many years.

Valentino Rossi snatched an early lead in the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril on Sunday, leading the field to his fourth win at the circuit in as many years.

The charismatic Rossi took the lead from Loris Capirossi on the first lap and blasted away from the pack to have an eventual five-second gap over second-place finisher Makoto Tamada.

"I wanted to push from the beginning because I knew that if I arrived with another rider at the end it would be difficult,” said Rossi after the race.

”My start was not perfect but I was in first position on the first lap and made four or five good laps and it was possible to go. I was able to arrive at the end in control of the situation."

Rossi’s championship rival, Sete Gibernau, was unable to beat fellow Honda rider Alex Barros for the final podium position, eventually finishing fourth as the Brazilian rider curtailed all his attempts to pass on the final lap.

Another great rival, Max Biaggi, crashed on the opening lap while trying to follow Capirossi into the first corner. Tamada swiftly stepped into second place but was unable to bridge the gap behind Rossi despite his best efforts throughout the race.

Rossi's team-mate Carlos Checa fought off a charge from Suzuki’s John Hopkins towards the end of the race to finish fifth and give Hopkins his best MotoGP finish yet.

Capirossi had been bumped down to 18th place after his run-in with Biaggi at the start of the race, but managed to fight back and claim the seventh position. Troy Bayliss finished eighth behind his Ducati team-mate, while Honda's Colin Edwards and Yamaha’s Norick Abe completed the top ten.