SHANGHAI, May 4 (Reuters) - Seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi broke an eight-month victory drought by edging out Spaniard Dani Pedrosa to win the Chinese Grand Prix in wet conditions on Sunday.
The Italian, who qualified second fastest, overtook Pedrosa early to take control of the race before burning away from the Spaniard to win in 44 minutes 8.061 seconds.
Pedrosa, on a Honda, battled hard to stay with Rossi but ultimately finished 3.89 seconds behind the Italian with Australian world champion Casey Stoner a distant third.
Rossi, who had not won since Portugal in September last year, made light of drizzly rain at the Shanghai International Circuit, setting a circuit record of 1 minute 59.273 seconds on his 18th lap.
“I’m very, very happy, as it’s been a long time without victory. This was a difficult period,” Rossi said.
“I really had to push to beat Dani. It was a great victory for us,” the Yamaha team rider told the MotoGP Web site (www.motogp.com).
The emphatic win, the 29-year-old’s first with Bridgestone tyres, gave the Italian his 102nd premier-class podium finish, and left him third in the world championship standings behind Pedrosa and fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.
Stoner, who missed out on podium finishes in his last two starts, lies fourth.
Honda’s Pedrosa, the only rider to mount the podium in all four races this year, was happy with second place.
“In the end I just slowed down because I saw that I couldn’t get Valentino, and I just decided to keep the engine alive and finish second,” the 22-year-old said.
Lorenzo, who qualified fourth on his Yamaha despite suffering a fractured left ankle after being thrown off his bike in practice on Friday, finished fourth after a late surge on the day of his 21st birthday.
America’s Colin Edwards, however, was disappointed to finish seventh after smashing Rossi’s pole position record on Saturday.
Italy’s Andrea Iannone on an Aprilia won the 125cc race with a time of 46 minutes 2.275 seconds, more than three seconds faster that France’s Mike Di Meglio on 46 minutes 5.630 seconds.
Finland’s Mikko Kallio riding a KTM won the 250cc category in 48 minutes 12.217 seconds ahead of Japan’s Hiroshi Aoyama. (Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Ed Osmond)