ROME Marc Marquez continued his dominance of the MotoGP World Championship with victory at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, his sixth successive win.
After prevailing in an almighty battle with Jorge Lorenzo on the final lap the Spaniard moves up to a perfect 150 points in the standings, 53 ahead of Valentino Rossi who in his 300th Grand Prix moved into second place in the championship.
Rossi fought back from 10th on the starting grid to finish third, and now leads Dani Pedrosa by a point.
"This win was really hard work, it was the hardest race to win so far this season," Marquez told Sky Sport Italia.
"It was difficult being behind Jorge at the beginning and then trying to overtake him at the end, but we had a good set up with the sixth gear that allowed us to make the most of the long straights.
"Another victory but this one was special."
Marquez had come into the race with a 100 percent record and started in pole position for the sixth time in a row, but Yamaha rider Lorenzo took the lead on the first lap and initially held off his determined compatriot.
It looked as though Marquez would continue his winning streak when Lorenzo allowed him to steal the lead when he stuck a wheel in the grass at the end of the pit zone with seven laps to go.
However Lorenzo retook the lead a lap later and after that followed an astonishing battle between the two Spaniards, who exchanged first place on several occasions before Marquez finally took the lead and held on for the win.
Lorenzo gave the sort of aggressive performance that has been sorely lacking so far this season but the two-time world champion remains well off championship pace in fourth on 65 points.
"It was really hard and an emotional battle. Marc's really good and has a great bike. Making our bike better made it easier for me to fight with him today," said Lorenzo.
"I'm happy with this second place though, as I feel a lot better physically and I’m happier about my bike.
"I think I'm back, but we need to confirm that in the following races."
The massive Mugello crowd cheered local hero Rossi onto the podium as though he had won the race himself.
"I'm happy, it was a really good race. It's a shame I made an error in qualifying by choosing the wrong tyre," said the 35-year-old, seven times a world champion in the top category of motorcycling.
"I'm happy because it's my third podium in a row and I'm on the podium at Mugello for the first time in five years."
It was an unlucky Sunday for Stefan Bradl, with the Honda rider crashing during the morning's warm-up before being taken out of the race by Cal Crutchlow on lap four.
Briton Crutchlow lost control of his Ducati, which then took out the unsuspecting German and ended both their races.
(Editing by Martyn Herman and Josh Reich)