BARCELONA (Reuters) - Italian Andrea Dovizioso beat the Spanish home heroes to win the Grand Prix of Catalunya on Sunday and celebrate back-to-back MotoGP victories for Ducati.
His triumph at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, coming a week after a home win at Mugello, left Dovizioso only seven points behind Yamaha's overall leader Maverick Vinales, who finished 10th.
Honda's Spanish team mates Marc Marquez, the reigning triple world champion, and Dani Pedrosa, who had started on pole position at a track down the road from where he grew up, finished second and third respectively.
Spaniard Vinales, whose Italian team mate Valentino Rossi finished eighth, now has 111 points to Dovizioso's 104 after seven races. Marquez is third on 88.
Dovizioso had started seventh on the grid but was immediately up with the leading group and, after a waiting game, hit the front with nine laps to go and pulled away.
"It was a strange weekend for everybody," he said after embracing his jubilant team. "To manage the track, the grip, the temperature was very difficult. It was a strange race.
"We worked really well when we did a test here, we arrived here with good speed and it helped us during the weekend to work on the small details and make the difference during the race."
The win was Ducati's first at Barcelona since Australian Casey Stoner in 2007 and it cemented a feeling that the bike is coming good and the Italian is becoming a serious title contender.
Ducati had not won two races in a row since 2010, also with Stoner, and Dovizioso will fancy his chances of completing a hat-trick at the Dutch TT in Assen on June 25.
Pedrosa led off the line but was passed by Dovizioso's Spanish team mate Jorge Lorenzo after five corners.
Lorenzo, a triple MotoGP champion, was then reeled in again with Marquez and Pedrosa trading the lead before Dovizioso made his move.
"A tough race because the tyres were suffering a lot, since the first lap I couldn't push" said Pedrosa. "I didn't feel the grip and I was trying to manage the tyres."
Marquez, who went to salute his army of fans after the chequered flag, agreed it had been a difficult weekend managing the tyres.
"My target was to finish in front of Dani because I thought he was the fastest one, but Dovi today again was one step faster than us," he said.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis