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Rossi extends MotoGP lead at drenched Donington

Rossi extends MotoGP lead at drenched Donington

Rossi extends MotoGP lead at drenched Donington

Valentino Rossi came through one of the most accident-strewn races in MotoGP history to seal his seventh win of the season in today's British Grand Prix at Donington Park. With torrential rain throughout the day leaving several centimetres of standing water on the track, Rossi was one of only ten riders to stay on two wheels throughout the race although he had to avoid several scares before eventually shaking the attentions of Kenny Roberts and Alex Barros with a breathtaking surge to victory seven laps from the end.

"That was one of the most difficult races of my career – the conditions were incredible," reflected Rossi, who crossed the line imitating a violin player by way of celebration. "It was very, very cold and the track was very slippery. Today was not like riding a bike, it was like a boat because there was a lot of water between the wheels and the track – always spinning the rear and locking the front. I tried to understand the points where I could push more and said: ‘Now I try and we see what happens.' I was able to go a lot faster and keep the advantage. It was a great job by the team because the bike worked well even though we only had 20 minutes this morning. I did the violin celebration because after my pole lap yesterday I decided it was a fine art – like the violin!".

Second place for Roberts represented a first podium for the former World Champion and his Suzuki team since Rio in 2002, whilst Honda's Alex Barros was able to celebrate his 250th Grand Prix appearance in style by joining the rostrum in third place. However, the biggest celebrations in the paddock took place at Yamaha, where Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards picked up fourth place to move ahead of Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau into third in the championship, just one point behind Marco Melandri in second.

Biaggi, Gibernau and Melandri all fell victim to the treacherous weather conditions, with Biaggi the first rider to crash out at the end of the opening lap. Melandri soon followed, crashing at the same point as his compatriot on the exit of Goddards corner and taking Troy Bayliss with him into the dirt, whilst Gibernau, who was leading the race, went down on lap four. John Hopkins briefly led on the Suzuki before gradually losing positions and then himself sliding out of fifth place at the chicane, returning to the track to take eleventh.

By that time local favourite Shane Byrne was already dreaming about what might have been after delighting the 75,661 home crowd with a charge to sixth place on the Proton KR-KTM machine before also crashing out, following Ruben Xaus, Nicky Hayden, Shinya Nakano, James Ellison and Franco Battaini back to the pits. Carlos Checa and Loris Capirossi produced a late charge to close the gap to Edwards but were forced to accept fifth and sixth place respectively ahead of Makoto Tamada, Alex Hofmann, Toni Elias, Roberto Rolfo and Hopkins – the only eleven riders to finish the race.


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