Coppins made a brave comeback from a two inch break to his left shoulder, sustained only four weeks ago, but completed few fast laps and took things easy on Saturday. The New Zealander commented that he was fighting pain in the joint but had medical attention and took to the line on Sunday to attempt to defend the 12 points he held in defiance of Suzuki's Steve Ramon.

The first moto at the new 'artificial' track built inside the Donington Park road racing circuit, started perfectly for Coppins as the 30 year old grabbed the holeshot. However he was unable to keep pace with the leaders and was later swamped in the final laps, leaving him fourteenth.

Ramon, struggling with a partially broken scaphoid of his own, took sixth in race one, reducing the gap to just 4 points for the second race. Coppins again tried to fight his corner but had to pull into the pits after one lap as the former championship runner-up had no strength in his upper limb and could not control the bike properly.

With Ramon finishing race two in fourth, Coppins lost the red plate for the first time this year and now faces a tough job at Lierop to regain his status. The winner of five grands prix this year - Ramon is yet to take an overall - will need to claim 14 points over Ramon to lift the world crown.

"I just could not deal with the pain this weekend. I kept telling the doctor to give me more but I had reached a limit. I was struggling for concentration and at one point I could not even lift my arm to put it on the handlebars or put on my goggles," said a distraught Coppins. "I knew after the sighting lap in the second moto that it was pretty much over but I tried the start and to see if the race could change something. My family is here from NZ and I wanted to go and give 100% for them and my fans and I couldn't and that is more frustrating than anything. I have worked so hard for this championship and not being able to fight for it is the worst thing of all. It is a hard pill for me to swallow right now. I'm filled with so many emotions. I hope that this coming week will bring more clarity as to what I will do in Lierop."

"It is a disappointing day but it is still not over. It depends on how Josh will recover this week," added Coppins' team manage Carlo Rinaldi. "If those extra days give us a benefit like we hope then the championship is not over. We just hope that this weekend has not added any extra damage or slowed the recovery."

"Today was great for the championship but I still really want to win," said new title leader Ramon. "With my wrist it is not easy to get on the podium and I have to ride carefully. It has been tough the last few weeks. I know Josh has had problems but I have also not been fit. I have the red plate today though, which was the goal but there is still one GP to go and we are not there yet."

But while the world championship lead changed hands, many eyes were on Cairoli as he stormed to a brilliant debut MX1 victory. The Sicilian, who wrapped up his second MX2 title last weekend in Northern Ireland, finished second to Ramon's team-mate Kevin Strijbos in race one, then snatched the overall with a dominant victory in the deciding race.

"Well this is another good day for me. I did not have the speed to make a good qualifying time yesterday but I knew that in the race it would be different. In the first moto I started well and just waited for a little bit behind Mackenzie but I had some arm-pump because I'm not so used to the power of the 450. When I was in the lead Kevin went through and he was faster. I had a small problem with my goggles because the sweat kept dropping onto the lens and I just wanted to make sure of second," revealed Toni.

"I know that my physical condition is good and in the second moto I was again at the front and just did what I normally do in MX2. I did not waste any energy in the first part of the race and pushed when I needed to in order to take the win. I had two different kinds of races today. I found the power the biggest difference with the 450; for one race it is fine but for the whole season it would be hard. With little to no preparation to ride the 450, I prefer my 250 for the moment because I really enjoy that bike and have so much fun."

"Again Tony has proved that he is an unbelievable talent," stated Yamaha Motor Europe's racing manger Laurens Klein Koerkamp. "We were hoping for a good result and for him to be in front of Steve to help Josh and take some points away but we never expected him to win the GP; a podium would have already been a great result. I can't really find more words to explain it. Today though is a classic case of mixed feelings because it is incredible what Tony did but I feel so upset for Josh. What he managed in the first heat was very brave but he was in so much pain. We have been through a spectrum of emotions today. We won't give up and hopefully in the coming week the bone in his shoulder will continue to heal."

In the MX2 class, KTM's Tommy Searle took a debut grand prix victory in front of his delighted home fans with 2-1 race results. Searle lost out to Nicolas Aubin in race one, but was a commanding eight seconds clear of nearest rival Jeremy Tarroux in race two.

The victory vaults Searle into second place in the season's standings and, with several of Searle's toughest rivals out with injuries, he now looks certain to finish in second place at the close of the season.

"It was a perfect day for me. I was not so worried after coming second in the first moto because I put all my efforts into the second heat. "I was struggling today with the lines but I tried to do my best," Searle said. "It was great to win here in Donington in front of my family and friends and it gave me an opportunity to give something back to my fans and all the people who have supported me."

Team boss Stefan Everts was also delighted with the win of his youngest charge. "I am very happy for Tommy," he said. "I know the feeling of winning before your home crowd. This has been a very important win today and it will give Tommy a lot of confidence, but it is also good for the whole team who all worked hard to make it possible."

In what was the best day of his career so far, Searle was also named as the MX2 rider for the British team to compete in the Motocross of Nations.