The old saying might claim 'You can't make a racehorse out of a donkey' but Valentino Rossi went from donkey to Italian stallion in the space of just one week with his home victory at Misano on Sunday.
The reigning six time MotoGP champion was riding with a donkey's face (from the film Shrek) on top of his helmet and the words 'The Donkey' (in the style of his nickname 'The Doctor'), as a joke at his own expense for crashing at Indianapolis one week earlier.
That accident marked Rossi's first non-finish since 2007 and halved his title lead to 25 points over Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo - but it did solve one problem:
“In Italy, if you make a stupid mistake we say you are a donkey. As soon as I hit the ground at Indianapolis I thought what a donkey I was. Later I thought that would make a good helmet design for my home race,” explained Rossi. “So I may have lost 25 points but I solved the problem of the helmet design for Misano!”
The donkey helmet certainly didn't slow Rossi down at Misano, where he was fastest in every track session - then charged from a low of fourth on lap 4 to take the race lead on lap 8 of 28.
Whilst Lorenzo struggled to get around early leader Dani Pedrosa, Rossi built a safe advantage, which he then monitored to the chequered flag for his sixth victory of the season.
“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,” he explained. “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!” smiled the 30-year-old, who also wore a pair of donkey ears on the podium.
Rossi's home town of Tavullia is just a few kilometres from Misano, which rejoined the MotoGP calendar in 2007. However the official Italian Grand Prix is at Mugello, where Rossi had won for seven straight years, prior to his third place in the 2009 race.