World championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama has won the 250cc British Grand Prix at Donington Park, using wet tyres on a dry track!
The race began in the wet, and with almost all the field fitting full wet tyres, but a dry line began to appear as early as lap 3 of 27, by which time Aoyama was already pulling clear of the field.
Title rival Alvaro Bautista had been just eighth at the end of lap one, but fought his way up to second by lap 7, although Aoyama's Scot Honda remained six seconds clear by the halfway mark.
By then the track was clearly dry, causing some of the less forgiving riders problems as their sliding rear tyres overheated, but the leaders were in a class of their own - pulling 30 seconds clear of the third placed battle between Mattia Pasini and Alex Debon (both of whom fell and remounted) with 10 laps to go.
Bautista, who had failed to make an impact into Aoyama's lead for much of the race, suddenly began closing on the Japanese as the race neared its conclusion - sitting two seconds adrift with 3 laps to go.
But a calculating Aoyama responded as needed, gaining ground back from the Aspar Aprilia rider to win his third race of the year by 5.723sec.
Aoyama, who came into round nine 10 points ahead of Bautista, will leave Donington for his summer holiday with an advantage of 15 points.
Reigning 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli was typically quick in the early wet stages, but struggled as the track dried before mounting a late charge to threaten Pasini for the final podium position. The Team Toth rider kept his nerve and held off the Metis Gilera rider by 0.615sec.
Double 250cc World Championship runner-up Ralf Waldmann, making a one-off GP return at the age of 43 to a track where he tasted victory in both 1997 and 2000, gambled on intermediate tyres, in a reverse of his memorable 2000 decision.
The German was 25th and last until lap five, when the improving weather helped him lap significantly faster than those around him, but he pulled into the pits and retirement soon after, ending hopes of a shock result.
Race results - Donington Park:
1. Aoyama (Honda)
2. Bautista (Aprilia) +5.723sec
3. Pasini (Aprilia) +36.161sec
4. Simoncelli (Gilera) +36.776sec
5. di Meglio (Aprilia) +41.418sec
6. Debon (Aprilia) +41.938sec
7. de Rosa (Honda) +57.483sec
8. Barbera (Aprilia) +59.975sec
9. Luthi (Aprilia) +1min 14.852sec
10. Faubel (Honda) +1min 16.927sec
18. Mossey (Aprilia) +1 lap
23. Markham (Aprilia) +4 laps
Kenshington (Yamaha) DNF