Valentino Rossi survived a race-long battle with Spain’s Sete Gibernau to snatch victory after a late charge at the Catalunya circuit on Sunday.

Valentino Rossi survived a race-long battle with Spain’s Sete Gibernau to snatch victory after a late charge at the Catalunya circuit on Sunday.

“The Doctor” scored a victory in front of Gibernau’s adoring fans as the home-based hopeful was unable to stop a last minute charge to victory by the Italian. The charismatic Rossi made his final pass with two laps to go and managed a slight advantage to take the flag with just over one-tenth of a second separating him from his arch-rival.

"To win at Mugello and Catalunya is like a dream because we knew they would be two difficult tracks for us with the long straights and the extra top speed of the Honda", commented Rossi after his second victory in as many weeks.

“At one point Sete was able to get away but then he started to slide so I was able to get in front again. To have won three races at this stage of the Championship is fantastic. I'm really happy to see the other M1s up front as well. Today was less dramatic but more tactical than Mugello, but still a great race.”

Second placed Sete Gibernau, who retained his championship lead, albeit by five points, said: “I tried to play my cards well again today and we did the best we could with what we had.”

Opting to use a softer tyre compound versus the harder compound used by Yamaha, Gibernau said he expected his tyres would begin to deteriorate while Rossi’s were still in adequate condition. However, he was upbeat about his performance and said he did not feel as though he had lost on Sunday, since he was “getting 100 per cent out of … every race.”

After shaking off the advancements of Max Biaggi in the first part of the race, Marco Melandri went on to finish a lonely race while walking off with his first MotoGP podium finish behind Rossi and Gibernau. Melandri maintained a comfortable distance over Rossi’s team mate, Carlos Checa, who finished fourth after a disappointing qualifying session had him starting from twelfth on the grid.

“I had much more confidence in the front braking today so it was easier to pass people. By the time I caught up with Marco he was pushing hard but I couldn't keep the same pace anymore because of the tyres. I am so pleased with this result after Saturday’s qualifying and my fall yesterday morning,” Checa said.

Among the pre-race favourites, Max Biaggi’s race deteriorated in the second half of the race as his Honda fell foul to tyre problems. Honda’s Colin Edwards, another Honda rider, was the first to pass Biaggi and finished in fifth place.

In his rookie season, Edward’s former WSB rival Ruben Xaus clinched the best result so far with a sixth place finish in front of his home crowd. Shinya Nakano took Kawasaki's best ever MotoGP finish in seventh place, while Biaggi crossed the line in a disappointing eighth place after dropping a place on each of the final three laps.