Valentino Rossi may have had a donkey on his helmet today but it was ‘The Doctor’ riding the bike once again, as the Italian hero bounced back from his Indianapolis mistake with an emphatic home victory at Misano. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo finished a strong second, making this the fifth one-two finish for the team this season.
After the boiling heat of the last two days the temperature today was brought right down by a strong wind, which meant track conditions were quite different to how they had been so far. Rossi, starting from pole, dropped to third at the start whilst Lorenzo narrowly escaped a pile up, which claimed three other riders. The Spaniard then got in front of the Italian for a few laps as Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elias battled it out for the lead, but on lap five all changed as Rossi moved into second, passing both his team-mate and Elias, and Lorenzo despatched Elias a few corners later to take third.
Rossi was flying by now and took the lead next time around, gradually opening out a gap as Lorenzo struggled to get by Pedrosa. It took the gutsy 22-year-old six laps to overtake his compatriot and by the time he was through Rossi was two seconds clear and Lorenzo had to settle for second and his tenth podium of the season. Rossi, who lives just 10 km from the track, eventually crossed the line 2.416 seconds ahead, taking his eleventh career win on Italian soil and his sixth of the season to a rapturous welcome from his passionate fans.
The gap from Rossi to Lorenzo is now 30 points, whilst Yamaha lead both the Teams and Manufacturers standings by large margins. There is now a four-week break to the next round, at Estoril in Portugal, with four races remaining in total.
Position: 1st Time: 44’32.882
“This is a great feeling! It’s taken me some time to get used to Misano and view it as a ‘home’ race because Mugello is so special to me, but I can honestly say that winning here today, in front of everyone dressed in yellow and with 46s everywhere, is a great emotion and I want to thank everyone for making it so special. Today I had to go quite carefully with the full tank at the start and I took some time to get to the front but once I was there it was great and my bike felt fantastic. We didn’t expect to be this competitive here but it’s been a perfect weekend, so I have to say a huge thank you to the team for a brilliant job. Since Indianapolis, when I made that mistake, we have been so focused and concentrated and everyone deserves this result. I was the ‘flying donkey’ today! I am happy that we are going into a month without racing with these memories and this points lead, but as we saw in Indy everything can change quickly so we will be fully focused once again in Estoril when we come back.”
Position: 2nd Time: +2.416
“I did what I had to do today and took as many points as I could, which is the most important thing when you’re not perfect. Unfortunately we struggled a bit all weekend to find the right setting and so I thought it was better to take care and ensure the second place today. I took some time to get past Dani and Toni and then it was too far to Valentino. After I was nearly brought down on the second corner I wanted to make sure I got the points in order to keep the championship alive. We have some work to do but we will make sure we’re back to our best in Estoril, where I have great memories from last year and my first win.”
“I think it’s been a perfect weekend! We came here after Indy feeling very motivated to make sure we got a good result and we’ve done just that. We led in almost all the sessions, took the pole and won the race. The team and the engineers worked in a fantastic way because the bike, since Friday afternoon, worked well and we only had to fine-tune it to get the perfect setting for today. We have to continue in this way for the last four rounds, with the same system, and we’re looking forward to the next one. We’ve increased the gap and decreased the number of races so this is the right way forward for us! Congratulations to all the team and thank you for such a good reaction to last weekend, this is a great reward.”
“Overall we’re satisfied with today’s result, although of course our aim is to win races and try to keep the tension on this fantastic championship to the end. This weekend we encountered a few more difficulties with the setting but today we were in better shape for the race than we were in all the practice sessions so this is positive. The championship is difficult but we will fight to the end and keep trying to improve at every race.”
James Toseland finished a gallant tenth at a sunny and hot Misano after making a superb recovery from a chaotic start to the San Marino Grand Prix.
However his Monster Yamaha Tech3 teammate Colin Edwards was not so lucky with the Texas Tornado making an early exit in a wild turn one crash. Edwards was an innocent victim when hit from behind by Italian rider Alex de Angelis with Nicky Hayden also being bumped out of the race.
It was a frustrating outcome to a promising weekend with Edwards on the pace for top four place. It was the first time this season in which Edwards has not scored championship points and he has now slipped from fi fth to sixth in the standings behind Andrea Dovizioso.
Toseland was also a victim of the messy first corner action which spread the field with the Briton settling in tenth position at the end of lap one after starting fourteenth. Toseland quickly matched his qualifying pace that showed he had the speed for a potential top six finish.
The race was watched by 55,000 spectators in glorious late summer weather with factory Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo finishing first and second.
Colin Edwards DNF – 123 points
“I thought I had the pace to easily be fourth and maybe fight with Pedrosa for a podium but we are in Italy and occasionally you have to deal with an Italian rider who wants to be a hero and today that was De Angelis. Turn one at the start with seventeen bikes is not the place to be going at r ace pace and he was never going to make through there. Today De Angelis is the guy who needed to be wearing Valentino’s donkey helmet. I didn’t know what happened until I was sliding through the gravel. Turn one is the most dangerous time to crash with so many bikes around you, it is unacceptable. I’ve been fighting with Dovizioso in the championship most of the season and now he has ten points on me with four races to go. That’s racing.”
James Toseland 10th – 78 points
“The incident at turn one really spilt the pack and I saw it all unfolding and it was unfortunate for Colin and Nicky to go out like that. I am not pleased with tenth place but I am pleased about my lap times in the race. I was matching Dovizioso and Capirossi except for the last five laps because I chose the softer tyre at the rear. We changed to a softer fork springs at the front for the race which made the bike smoot her over the bumps and without that turn one incident I think I had a chance of tagging along for a top six finish. I found it difficult to find a comfortable setting this weekend and we went in circles a little while trying understand the new front geometry with this set-up, but the guys in the team did a great job. At the end I could see Capirossi ahead at every corner so I knew I was doing a good pace so it is frustrating when you can’t be up there fighting for a better result.”
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“It was a very disappointing day, Colin had the pace for at least fourth position although you have to see the chequered flag to get a result. Before the race I sat down with Colin and told him that it looks good for him but I was worried about the Gresini Honda riders who need to have good results. Alex de Angelis is a nice guy but this is not the correct way to go racing, he did not do it on purpose but this type of incident can be very dangerous. It is a pity because we have lost points in the team championship and now Colin is sixth in the riders’ championship. James lost ground early in the race but his lap times were very close to the battle for fourth and fifth place but he had too much ground to make up. Now we cross our fingers for better results in the final four races.”