Valentino Rossi surges from 12th to second

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Valentino Rossi produced a heroic display in Phillip Island today to surge from the fourth row of the grid to claim second.

Riding with a muscle strain in his neck and a big headache after his huge crash in qualifying yesterday, Rossi had already moved into eighth place on the first lap, despite a close call with Alex de Angelis.

As de Angelis tumbled out at the MG Hairpin, Rossi only just missed the San Marino rider but by lap four Rossi was also on the tail of an exciting Yamaha battle involving team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and impressive British rider James Toseland.

Rossi only needed two laps to dispose of Lorenzo’s threat, but he found it more complex to fend off a determined performance from Toseland, who was producing a brilliant display on his 28th birthday.

Rossi eventually shrugged off the attentions of Toseland on lap 13, and he quickly closed in on a fast fading Nicky Hayden in the final stages.

The American held a massive six-second advantage when Rossi did hit third place, but he passed the Repsol Honda on the last lap to claim his 14th podium.

Rossi, who crashed yesterday at over 100mph at the same corner where Carl Fogarty’s career was ended in 2000, said: “That was a very exciting race for me, from start to finish! Unfortunately I made a small mistake yesterday and I paid a high price for it – both with my starting position and with my body!

“This morning my neck was okay but I had a lot of pain in my head, so I have to say thank you to Dr. Costa and the Clinica Mobile because they gave me a lot of massage and some medicine and I was in better shape for the race. I got a good start and I was lucky to miss de Angelis by just a couple of centimetres, and then I arrived to Lorenzo and Toseland.

“The first time I passed James I thought I would be able to go but then he passed me back and I realised that his pace was not so bad, and we had a great battle! He was very strong and difficult to pass but once I did get by I was able to go and then I just kept pushing and gradually Nicky got bigger and bigger.

“It was fun to keep fighting till the last lap and I am very happy with this second position because it’s always a great emotion to be on the podium here. Thanks to my team and to Bridgestone, with Casey as strong as he was I think this was the best we could have done today and I really enjoyed the race.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt