The last MotoGP race at Donington Park was as dramatic as any of the previous 22, with the weather, as always, playing a leading role.In a race that began and finished in a light rain that never doused the track, the top two championship leaders crashed, the Ducatis were lapped, and the podium was filled by three riders who hadn't been there this season and one who'd never been there.The top spot went to Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian not only taking his first podium but his first ever win with a calculated ride under pressure."Yes,  the race was very difficult because at the beginning the temperature of the tire was really dangerous and I take a lot of risks the first two laps," he began,  "and at the end I think nobody can understand which part was wet or dry and with the slick it's really difficult."I won the race in 250 in 2007, but this is the MotoGP, is the best category with the best riders, so the emotion is unbelievable."Dovizioso inherited the lead when Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi crashed in the Fogarty Esses on the 20th of 30 laps. When Dovi crossed the line his lead was over ten seconds and it would grow to over 13. But as the rain picked up near the end he found company from LCR Honda's Randy De Puniet and Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards.De Puniet and Edwards battled each other as they quickly closed on Dovizioso. The last lap began with Dovizioso 1.4 secs. in front of De Puniet with Edwards in pursuit. Edwards made his move in the final corner to take his third career runner-up finish at Donington Park, and fifth second place overall. It was his and the team's first podium of the season. De Puniet earned the first ever podium for the LCR Honda team. (His previous podium, a second place, came aboard a Kawasaki in Japan two years ago.)Edwards thought he might catch Dovizioso with "about two laps to go, but then that's when I started having lots of moments and then I thought, 'Uh-oh, you might have to just get what we can get or get in the gravel.'"Where do I start? I don't know. We started the race on a front tire that I hadn't even ridden this weekend. Didn't know what it was about. We started the race and everybody was going and I thought, 'Where the hell are y'all going, man?' I was just trying to get the feel for the track what the traction was. And so then I was back in 15th or something, sitting there lollygagging."And then I started working my way up and getting some momentum and starting to understand the front tire, the feeling, the grip. And then I started pushing and I thought, 'OK,' but honestly there was a point there where the left side of the rear got cold and then I had some big moments there, I don't know, seven or eight laps from the end, and then it came warm again, the rain stopped a little bit. Then it started again and then right there at the end, I saw, whenever I came up to Randy, the left side of the tire was just so cold, it was like ice. And I was trying to go down the straightaway on the left side of the tire trying to make a big arc just to keep some heat in the tire."But it was, it was crazy. I don't wish a race like that really upon anybody. And I mean especially Dovi. I'm sure he was getting the time. I was catching him and catching him. to have his first win, congratulations to him."De Puniet was of two minds. He was catching Dovi, but he was being caught by Edwards and he realized if he wanted to keep his podium he had to push,  "and this helped to catch Dovi, but it was too late and also the last two laps were so slippery, especially on the left side, like said Colin. And I'm lucky to finish on the bike and for me it's perfect to be on the podium after my crash in Sachsenring. It's perfect. We need to conintue this way even if I know the next races will be not the same, but anyway, we need to be happy with this."Dovizioso was the rider who had the most to celebrate after winning by 1.360 secs. Having not scored points in the previous three races, the Italian raced with a maturity and level-headedness that a number of his fellow riders couldn't muster.Among them was Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard was leading the race when he crashed while braking on a painted white line at the end of the ninth lap."I got a good start and the first few laps went well; I was feeling quite comfortable in the lead," Lorenzo said. "Unfortunately on the final corner of the ninth lap I made a small mistake, got my line wrong and touched the white line and there was nothing I could do; it was very slippery. I was okay and wanted to carry on but my bike was too badly damaged"

Rossi crashed out of the lead when his rear end slid out as he was making the transition in the Fogarty Esses on the 20th lap. His Yamaha nearly slid into the path of Dovizioso.  Rossi was luckier than Lorenzo. His Yamaha wasn't damaged and he remounted in 11th and got back to work. His recovery would end in fifth place with final lap pass of Brit James Toseland in the same corner where he'd earlier crashed.Despite crashing, Rossi gained 11 points on Lorenzo and now leads the standings by 25, 187 to 162, as the series enters its three week summer break. Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner, who finished 14th, is third at 37 back"Once Jorge had crashed I was riding to win, as is always my style," Rossi said. "In hindsight maybe I should have let Dovizioso pass me for a while but it was difficult to judge in such strange conditions. Riding in the rain with slick tires is always a risk and it was quite slippery, the turns on the left were all wet which made the left side of the tire cold and that's why I crashed."Luckily it was a slow fall and my bike wasn't hurt much. In fact, my bike was ‘bravissima' today, both before and after the crash! After that we made a great recovery, I chose to remain with slick tyres despite the rain and the result was eleven points, which are like gold dust for us because we have extended the lead despite what happened here and we're going on holiday with a good advantage over our rivals."Finally I want to say well done to Dovi but especially to Colin, who rode like a devil today!"Stoner and teammate Hayden both gambled on rain tires, the only two riders to do so. The race began in a light drizzle, but it never significantly picked up and the Ducati riders were doomed to the back of the field. Hayden was the last of the 15 finishers, both riders getting lapped by much of the field."Everybody knows I’ve been struggling for the last few races in the dry so I was praying for the rain to come today," Stoner said. "Every single lap we were out there it threatened to pour down and we were very close to having the perfect situation. Unfortunately, even though it got heavier, it didn’t come soon enough and our tires were destroyed, so it ended up being the wrong decision. For us, in our current situation, I still think it was a risk worth taking because it could have worked out fantastically but obviously we’re disappointed it didn’t."I’m sorry for the team because they’ve done a great job to give me a bike capable of winning races at every circuit we’ve been to lately, even though for one reason or another I haven’t been able to get the best out of it. I’m looking forward to a break now and hopefully we come back a little bit stronger at Brno."Hayden agreed that it was a " big gamble, it backfired and it’s frustrating because we made a big change to the bike for warm-up this morning and I had a great feeling with it in the wet. The track was damp for the sighting lap and it was spitting with rain on the grid and since my pace on slicks hasn’t been great all weekend we took a big gamble. I had nothing to lose so we rolled the dice. The odds were against me but it was so close to paying off. It rained throughout the race but the track was so warm the moisture wasn’t accumulating on the ground and unfortunately that spelled disaster for us."I take full responsibility for the decision. We agreed on it together with the team but it was my shout, I thought ‘let’s try and be a hero here!’ The tire was pretty much destroyed after seven or eight laps but there was no point coming in to pit and it came apart five laps from the end. To be honest,it’s amazing how it held together for that long. I don’t want to say it was a mistake; it was just a gamble that didn’t pay off and we’ll learn from it.”San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex De Angelis equaled his career best, finishing alone in fourth. Teammate Toni Elias led the first two laps before dropping to fifth, then crashing on the eighth lap.None of the top six came in to change bikes. Seventh-place finisher Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing Kawasaki) did and he was 35 secs. behind the winner.Pramac Racing's Niccolo Canepa was eighth, with Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa slowing dramatically at the end to fall to ninth after running as high as second on the sixth lap."At the beginning I was feeling good on the Bridgestone slicks and was able to judge my pace well according to the conditions," Pedrosa said. "As the rain came however, I couldn't maintain the temperature in the tires and when this happens the grip really goes away and I wasn't able to control the bike as I wanted. On the grid I was sure my tire choice was correct, but with 10 laps to go I thought that maybe I should go into the pits and change to wets, but it wasn't worth losing 20 seconds for the bike change because the lap times of the riders on the wet tires were the same as the times on slicks."The second Pramac Ducati of Mika Kallio finished tenth, one better than Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi. Both pitted to change to rain tires.Scot Honda's Gabor Talmacsi finished a career-best 12th in front of Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, who also changed to rain tires. Then came Stoner and Hayden.The British GP will return to Silverstone, where the race was held until it was moved to Donington Park in 1987, for at least the next five years, while Formula One takes over a re-configured Donington Park for the same period.

MotoGP:

1. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

2. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

3. Randy De Puniet (Honda)

4. Alex De Angelis (Honda)

5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

6. James Toseland (Yamaha)

7. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki)

8. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati)

9. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

10. Mika Kallio (Ducati)

11. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)

12. Gabor Talmacsi (Honda)

13. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)

14. Casey Stoner (Ducati)

15. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

MotoGP Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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