Valentino Rossi admitted he made a massive mistake after the Italian took out Casey Stoner during a fight for victory in yesterday's captivating Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
The nine-times world champion had to apologise to Stoner and his factory Honda crew after a mistake under braking at the first corner on lap eight saw both crash out in wet conditions.
Rossi was able to recover from his blunder though and produce a rousing fightback to finish fifth.
But Aussie Stoner, who had dominated the opening race in Qatar last month, was unable to restart the 27-lap encounter and was furious that he didn't get more assistance from trackside marshals to help get his Honda RC212V fired up.
Rossi immediately apologised to Stoner in the Repsol Honda box, though TV cameras clearly picked up the 2007 world champion saying 'your ambition outweighs your talent' in an uncomfortable exchange.
For his part in the drama, Rossi apologised unreservedly, accepting he'd attacked Stoner too soon as he immediately found a good wet setting with the Ducati GP11.
"I had a great chance to get my first win for Ducati. I felt good, both with the bike and my shoulder, because I could brake where I wanted to rather than where I'm forced to in the dry, since I still don't have the necessary strength. The bike is very fast in the wet. I was advancing really well, and I'm sorry to have made that mistake and thrown away such an opportunity. While braking for the first corner, I entered a bit long, and although I tried to stay to the inside, I lost the front and couldn't stay up. I'm sorry, because I also took out Stoner, and I certainly didn't want to do that. I apologised to him, and I'm truly sorry; it was a mistake. The brake was damaged a little bit but the bigger problem at the end was the front tyre was completely finished on the right, so this tyre is too soft for me or more or less for everybody. A lot of people were in big trouble. It is better we have just one wet tyre for everybody but we need minimum two, one soft and one hard like the dry tyres, so we hope to speak to Bridgestone and bring two choices for the wet too.In the wet the bike is better and I had good grip and it was very stable. It was possible to go fast and I discovered this from the warm-up. We know the Ducati is competitive in the wet and the bike is ok, but unfortunately in the dry we still need to improve and to fix our problems."
Stoner was undeniably livid with Rossi but he was also angered at the lack of help he received from the marshals.
The Aussie said: "It wasn't the best day for me and I'm very disappointed with this result because I believe I would have been there at the end. Many people crashed and this is why I was being quiet. The bike felt good for the first two laps but then the tyres started to move a bit, so I backed off the pace and changed the engine mapping to be a bit smoother to try and save the tyres as much as I could because I watched Moto2 and 125s and they looked to be mixed conditions and I wanted to make sure that if it rained again I had some tyre left. Then Valentino tried come by and wasn't able to make the corner and that was it, race over. I heard Valentino arriving and I wasn't worried about anyone passing me at that point in the race so I gave him plenty of room. It was a racing incident and there's not much we can do. What is more frustrating is the reaction of the marshals and their assistance for Valentino and not for me, it was unbelievable."
For a full report including the exclusive reaction of Stoner, see this week's issue of MCN, out on Wednesday, April 6.