After a dramatic race on the track at Donington Park this afternoon the action continued behind closed doors as Valentino Rossi was docked 10 seconds for overtaking under yellow flags and victory at the Cinzano British Grand Prix was handed to Max Biaggi.
Rossi had initially emerged victorious from the 30 lap race, sharing the winner's champagne with the adoring British public after topping the podium from Biaggi and Sete Gibernau. However, an investigation from Race Direction revealed that the World Champion had passed Loris Capirossi in the aftermath of a first corner melee which saw Tohru Ukawa crash out. Rossi was accordingly penalised and relegated to third place, leaving Biaggi to celebrate a surprise first win of the season as Gibernau was promoted to second.
''I won the race but I understand how Rossi must feel because it happened to me in 1998,'' said Biaggi. ''I am happy to have the 25 points but it is not like a normal celebration. All I can say is that I have sympathy for Rossi but the rules have to be applied.''
Meanwhile Rossi, though disappointed, held his head high defeat. ''I know I was the best rider on the day,'' he said. ''I deserved the win - I rode well. On the first three laps and on the podium the atmosphere and support for me was incredible - it was like being at Mugello again. I didn't see the yellow flag - there was no debris from Ukawa's bike or any visible danger, but it is clear from the video footage that I passed Capirossi under the flag.''
Previous to the post-race drama a sell-out crowd of 72,000 fans had enjoyed an exhibition of top class MotoGP action, with Biaggi streaking ahead on the opening laps as Gibernau, Marco Melandri and Capirossi gave chase. Rossi got a bad start and was down in seventh on the first lap, but he fought back to second two laps later and began exerting pressure on Biaggi. Gibernau did his best to stick to the tails of the two Italians and the field was inadvertently split on the sixth lap when Melandri dropped his Yamaha in the chicane, forcing a group of riders behind him to go wide as the three Hondas broke clear.
However, Gibernau could not maintain the electric pace of the front two and when Biaggi finally cracked, running straight across the gravel at the chicane, Rossi was on hand to capitalise, storming past his great rival and opening up an instant two second gap he would maintain until the finish line. Gibernau lapped alone into the final podium position, with the eight second gap to Rossi serving to edge him ahead of the Italian in the revised standings.
Ducati rider Loris Capirossi rode a lonely race in fourth place but his team-mate Troy Bayliss was forced to work hard for fifth, charging through the field after losing several places in the combative opening laps. Carlos Checa held off a late surge from Nori Haga to seal sixth place, whilst Nicky Hayden will be boosted after beating fellow American Colin Edwards to eighth. Edwards was also caught on the final lap by Shinya Nakano, who pipped the World Superbike Champion for ninth.