Valentino Rossi will head into the MotoGP summer break with a one-race advantage at the top of the 2009 world championship standings, despite crashing from the lead of Sunday's British Grand Prix at Donington Park (see pictures below).
The Italian, who began the event 14 points in front of Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, went down in a shower of sparks after losing the rear through the Fogarty Esses with ten of 30 laps still to go.
Fortunately for Rossi - who was narrowly in front of eventual winner Andrea Dovizioso
at the time of his fall - Lorenzo had also fallen from the lead, on lap 8.
While Lorenzo had been out on the spot, Rossi was able to rejoin and charged from eleventh to fifth in the tricky conditions, which saw most riders using slicks tyres on an increasingly wet track.
That result increased his lead to 25 points over Lorenzo with seven rounds to go.
“Once Jorge had crashed I was riding to win, as is always my style. In hindsight maybe I should have let Dovizioso pass me for a while but it was difficult to judge in such strange conditions,” conceded Rossi.
“Riding in the rain with slick tyres is always a risk and it was quite slippery, the turns on the left were all wet which made the left side of the tyre 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!” he added, referring to Edwards' 15th-to-2nd charge.
“We missed an opportunity today but we've come out of it well so we have to be thankful” commented team manager Davide Brivio. “They were very difficult conditions and it was easy to make a mistake but at the end of the day we have to look at the championship and consider that in those terms today was more positive than negative for us. We now have a one-race lead which is an important barrier and we've got a bit of a holiday now before we come back and resume the fight.”
Sunday's race was the last to be held at Donington Park before a 2010 switch to Silverstone.