Never lower than second in the dry sessions leading up to the Estoril race, Marco Simoncelli's hopes of a debut MotoGP podium once again ended with a spectacular highside.
At the previous wet Jerez race, Simoncelli had crashed while leading - and in Portugal he didn't even finish the first lap, after being caught out by a cold rear tyre at Turn 4.
Second on the grid and third through Turn One, the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider had a warning of what was to come when his rear tyre stepped-out as he leaned left on the exit.
The Italian responded by selecting a higher gear for the following turns, but it still wasn't enough to prevent him being launched into the air at the first real left hander (see below for further pics).
Simoncelli was lucky to avoid his bouncing bike as he tumbled through the gravel.
“I am really disappointed for myself and for the team,” said Simoncelli, whose 'aggressive' riding style was criticised earlier in the weekend by world champion Jorge Lorenzo (see separate story).
“I had a warning from the rear tyre coming out of turn one. I also saw Pedrosa and Stoner have trouble so I tried to stay calm and decided to take turn three in a higher gear to keep the engine sweet.
“I did the same in the next corner to make sure it wasn't too aggressive but in the middle of the corner with the throttle closed I was thrown out of my seat and that was goodnight.
“I am really disappointed and I don't know what else to say. For sure it was my mistake and I have to be more careful next time. It's a shame because I was fast! We'll try not to make any stupid mistakes at Le Mans. ”
“I am disappointed by Marco's crash because hopes were high for him today, we knew he could be racing at the front and fighting for the podium if not the win,” said team manger Fausto Gresini. “Unfortunately with these tyres it is not easy because they take a little time to get up to temperature.”