In a spectacular race-long battle with rivals Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau held his nerve to win the Czech Grand Prix on Sunday.

In a spectacular race-long battle with rivals Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau held his nerve to win the Czech Grand Prix on Sunday.

Gibernau led for most of the race in a pack made up of Rossi, Biaggi, Alex Barros and Nicky Hayden. But both Barros and Hayden crashed out of the race. Barros slid into retirement first when his rear wheel gave way through one of the Czech circuit's many high-speed flicks while with three laps to go, Hayden lost his front wheel and bounced off the track, leaving a three-way battle which Gibernau dominated.

After allowing Rossi a brief spell at the front, Gibernau swiftly resumed his position and gradually increased his pace to lap close to record time and leave Rossi stranded in second, a full 3,5 seconds off the Spaniard's pace. Biaggi was unable to match Gibernau too, settling instead for third place.

"This is a big win for us and I'm pleased for the team because we had a big decision to make and it paid off," Gibernau said.

"Honda had brought a new engine and some other parts here but we didn't have a good opportunity to set things up because of the weather. So we decided to stick with what we had, which we knew was a motorcycle capable of winning this race. I was able to prove that today and I am delighted. Now we can concentrate on testing the new engine and hopefully take another step forward before the next round in Portugal."

After Barros and Hayden's misfortune, the fight for the remaining positions became more intense as Makoto Tamada blasted into fourth place after a long battle with Loris Capirossi, and Carlos Checa managed to beat Colin Edwards to the finish to take sixth position. Norick Abe, Marco Melandri and Kenny Roberts completed the top ten.

Troy Bayliss, who finished on Brno's podium last year, ended his race with two laps remaining whenmechanical problems which had plagued him throughout the race forced him to retire his Ducati.

Meanwhile, John Hopkins, who was also confident after setting the fastest time in the weekend's only dry practice practice session, was forced to retire with an engine problem after working his way from 19th at the start to eighth.

With this win, Gibernau's first since the French Grand Prix in May, he has now reduced Rossi's championship lead to 17 points. Biaggi trails the leader by 26 points with six rounds remaining in this tight MotoGP season.