British MotoGP: James Toseland close to career best

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A brilliant last lap performance by reigning world champion Valentino Rossi denied James Toseland the chance to score a career best MotoGP in front of a massive home crowd at Donington Park.

Toseland held fifth position for the final six laps but he was unable to fend off Rossi’s challenge as the Italian produced a rousing fightback after he’d crashed out of the lead on lap 20.

Rossi first passed Toseland at the Foggy Esses before running wide, allowing the British rider to immediately retaliate.

But with Toseland’s best MotoGP result, Rossi pounced again at the Melbourne Loop with another perfectly executed braking move to leave Toseland with his eighth top six finish in the premier class.

Toseland was just 0.8s away from fifth but he was relieved to have made amends for the bitter disappointment of his British GP debut in 2008 when he crashed at the first corner and ended up 17th.

The double World Superbike champion got a brilliant reception from a near 90,000-strong crowd and he said: “I don’t know where to start after a race like that.

“It was so difficult for the entire race to gauge how much rain was falling and where it was falling and it took incredible concentration.

“I got my head down and was fifth on the first lap but just after halfway I was back in tenth because I was struggling for temperature in the left side of the tyre.

“I was wondering whether to pull in or not and change for the rain tyres at one point but I carried on and kept my lap times as consistent as I could because it was so easy to make a mistake.

“With some of the other guys stopping to switch bikes, I made up a few places and was fifth for the final few laps and thinking I was going to get my best ever MotoGP result.

“That would have been amazing to do that in front of the home crowd, who were absolutely magnificent with their support.

“But at the end Valentino (Rossi) came through so strong on the last lap.

“Valentino passed me at The Esses but I managed to dive back under him, but he was phenomenal on the brakes at the Melbourne Loop.

“I wasn’t going to try and do anything to take us both out but it’s another sixth and it definitely makes amends for the big disappointment of last year.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt