Soaked Rossi takes win
Valentino Rossi won a very wet British MotoGP at Donington Park on Sunday in a dramatic race with only 11 finishers. They included Kenny Robert who grabbed second from Alex Barros in a brave last lap move.
Rossi described winning in the appalling conditions as his hardest ever race.
For our full behind-the-scenes coverage, see MCN, out on Wednesday, July 27.
The London-based Italian got a very bad start, dropping from pole to seventh place by the first corner, but the World Champion was soon back at the front and challenging for the lead.
Sete Gibernau took the lead off the line and had developed a convincing gap but he became one of the many victims of the horrendous conditions with very little grip to be found on the recently resurfaced track.
By lap four all of Rossi’s main rivals had gone down with Biaggi, Hayden, Melandri and Bayliss all joining Gibernau for an early shower.
From then on it was a race between Rossi, Alex Barros and the Suzukis of Kenny Roberts and John Hopkins.
Hopkins took the lead and looked as though he might pull away until a misted visor caused him to run off the track leaving him to finish last in 11th place.
Rossi’s team-mate Colin Edwards briefly took second place but was soon dropped by the rest of the group to finish in fourth, taking him to third in the championship.
Rossi was continuously recovering from small slides throughout the race but lap 11 saw him completely overshoot the entrance to the Melbourne loop almost missing the turn. He managed to recover and set two blistering laps to catch up with Barros, Roberts and Edwards.
But it wasn’t untill lap 22 though that Rossi proved he had more to give, taking the lead from Barros then setting the fastest race lap three laps in row to develop an eight-second advantage over Barros and holding first place to the line seven laps later.
Barros looked set for second place but Roberts was keeping an eye on him and flew past him on the last lap to take the second step on the podium.
Brit Shane Byrne was having a fantastic race on the Roberts KTM holding eighth place untill the wet weather got the best of him sending him off, Fellow Brit James Ellision followed not long after, loosing the front under braking.
Kenny Roberts Jnr
Anthony West took second place on the debut ride for the KTM 250cc machine.
It was the first race the brand new bike had entered – after several delays – and it was a very impressive first race with the KTM looking a match for the other machines on power but often being able to dramatically out-turn its rivals.
West has a good reputation as a wet weather specialist and showed off his skills on the soaked track, only loosing out on the win when a big slide on the last lap let Aprilia rider Randy De Puniet slip past.
The conditions made for some amazing racing with multiple lead changes throughout the race and the lead pack lapping the back markers up to ninth place.
Hiroshi Aoyama looked set to take an easy win with a massive lead over the chasing pack but he got caught up with back markers, losing his line and going in too fast into a corner, and crashing out.
Brit Chaz Davies was lapping in 11th place until he too got caught out by the slippery conditions and crashed out.
Randy De Puniet
Alex De Angelis
Wildcard 125cc rider and current British 125 championship leader Dan Linfoot scored an impressive ninth place in the two part 125cc race.
The Honda rider managed to hold off a whole host of GP regulars to score his ninth position while fellow wildcard Christian Elkin kept the crowd pleased with a 12th place finish.
KTM rider Julian Simon took the win in his first time on the top step of a GP podium followed by regular front runners Mike di Meglio and Fabrizio Lai.
The race had to be red flagged and restarted on lap eight after the start of the rain that drowned the rest of the day’s races.
Mike Di Meglio
Raffaele De Rosa