Roared on by a partisan local crowd, who have taken the Italian to their hearts after a string of victories at this circuit, Rossi started steadily from twelfth on the grid but soon got into his rhythm and began passing riders with the flamboyance and determination that has already taken him to five consecutive MotoGP World Championship titles.
With the series leader before today’s action, Nicky Hayden (Honda), struggling to seventh place today, Rossi’s incredible charge comes into sharper focus with a glance at the championship standings. With eight rounds remaining the Yamaha man trails the American by just 35 points and the destiny of the title is now back in his hands. Rossi remains in third place overall, however, after a second victory of the season for Dani Pedrosa (Honda) saw the Spaniard consolidate second spot.
Rossi’s team-mate Colin Edwards also produced a determined ride as he made up four places from his qualifying position to take sixth despite also struggling to find the correct set-up for his machine during practice. The American now heads to Japan to prepare for the Suzuka 8-Hour race he will contest on 30th July, before returning for the next round of the MotoGP season at Sachsenring, Germany, two weeks from now.
VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd; + 3.864)
“That was an amazing race and a very important result for me. I am in a better position as far as the points are concerned and that is more important than winning the race. To be honest after Assen I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to fight for a top result here but I wanted it so much because Donington is a very special place to me and the fans give me such incredible support every year. We were really surprised that the bike didn’t work on Friday but the whole team worked really hard to find the right setting and the right tyre. After qualifying we decided we would try some new things this morning but the wet warm-up meant we had no chance to do that so we just took a gamble with the setting and it worked. It took me eight laps to understand just how good my pace could be and from that point I realised that my goal had to be the podium. I had some hard battles along the way but when I got up to Melandri it got even harder! We had real fun and neither of us wanted to back down. He was faster than me in some places and I was faster than him in others. In the end it came down to the last hairpin and we both braked around 20 or 30 metres deeper than normal. We both ran wide but luckily Marco went even wider than me and I was able to get in from of him. I finished second but today it felt like a win.”
COLIN EDWARDS (6th; + 21.710)
“It just hasn’t clicked for us this weekend and I’m really disappointed, even though sixth place brings in a few decent points. Last year everything came easily here but from the first practice it was clear that it wasn’t going to be the case this time around and we never really found our way, it was as simple as that. The bike wasn’t too bad for the race and I could catch other riders easily but we didn’t have the set-up to get past people on the brakes. That made life really difficult and the race was a struggle from start to finish. It’s been a hard few weeks but now I have a bit of a change of scenery as I will head out to Japan to prepare for the 8 hour. I hope we’ll be in better position to fight at Sachsenring in a couple of week’s time.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
“This was a very important race because despite Valentino’s injury we have been able to close the gap to Nicky Hayden in the championship. Valentino said it was more like a victory and the feeling in the team is the same because of the physical condition he was in and the fact he started from so far back on the grid. There was never any doubt about Valentino’s qualities but he has performed like a true World Champion over a difficult few weeks and he deserves a rest now. Our engineers also did a great job to put everything together in time, they have also been working hard and will enjoy a couple of days off before the next race. Now we have eight races left and 35 points to make up before Valencia.”