Andrea Dovizioso came into the British Grand Prix having failed to finish the last three races, but left Donington Park as a MotoGP race winner.
The Italian, who took one podium during his rookie 2008 season with Scot Honda, hadn't been higher than fourth as a factory rider heading into round ten of this season, but broke his 2009 rostrum drought in perfect style.
“It's a fantastic feeling to win my first MotoGP race because this is the top series in the world with the best riders and so to win is a fantastic emotion,” beamed Dovizioso, a former 125cc world champion. “This is also important for my confidence after the last three races.
“I'm very pleased with my performance today as the conditions were so difficult. It was like three different races - riding hard at the start when it was nearly dry, following Valentino as it got wetter, and then judging the pace once I was in front. I rode well in every section and managed the very tricky situation, so it's really satisfying.”
Fourth in the early stages of a race that took place with the leading riders using slick tyres on an increasingly wet track, Dovizioso first took the lead on lap 3 of 30, before dropping back to third behind world championship leaders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
When Lorenzo crashed out of first place on lap 8, Dovizioso suddenly found himself alone with countryman Rossi, whom he shadowed until the reigning six time MotoGP champion lost control of his M1 with ten laps to go.
“Once I was following Valentino it was quite easy because it's not so difficult to follow someone in these conditions since the leader has to judge where it's wet and where it's dry,” explained the Repsol Honda rider. “But when he fell it was clear from his crash that the tyres were very cold and this was scary because now I had to set the pace.”
As the conditions worsened, Dovizioso's ten-second lead over Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards vanished, setting up a thrilling finish which saw all three riders covered by two seconds at the start of the last lap.
Dovizioso held his nerve to become the fifth different race winner of the 2009 season by 1.360sec over Edwards, with de Puniet just a few tenths further behind.