A chunk of rubber had been thrown from his front tyre, wiping out the fender, but Rossi was looking at the back of his bike - apparently thinking that it was the rear tyre which had failed. The real problem wasn't spotted when he pitted either - and the Italian was sent out with a new rear tyre, before realising the cause of the problem as he exited the pit lane.
It ultimately mattered little since Rossi was left around 18th after the pit stop. He then completed the rest of the lap at cruising speed before pulling into the pits and retiring. Rossi was using the same front tyre as the other Michelin riders, with the exception of Kenny Roberts. The Doctor has now slipped to sixth in the world championship standings, 32-points from the top. Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen
was the only other non-finisher, falling early in the race.
Behind the top four, Pedrosa's fellow rookie Casey Stoner
looked like a possible podium contender once again - sitting behind Rossi, in sixth, by lap 14. But the Honda LCR rider's hopes of two podiums in-a-row ended when he ran off track on the following circulation, dropping the young Australian back to tenth.
Nevertheless, he produced a gusty fight back - passing Ducati team-mates Gibernau and Loris Capirossi, then Turkish Grand Prix winner Marco Melandri
and fellow Honda rider Makoto Tamada, to take fifth at the chequered flag.
After a strong early showing, Nakano slipped back to tenth - just ahead of Toni Elias
- with the second ZX-RR of Randy de Puniet
collecting twelfth. Kenny Roberts, Carlos Checa and Alex Hofmann
completed the point scorers.
The French Grand Prix at Le Mans, round five of the 2006 MotoGP World Championship, takes place next weekend.
Chinese Grand Prix:
12. de Puniet