Rossi takes Donington in appalling conditions

Rain or shine, Valentino Rossi has been unbeatable just about any time that he has climbed on his Yamaha in this year's MotoGP championship, and that was the case again in the rain today, at the British GP at Donington Park.

Start: Valentino Rossi leads the field.
Photo by Gauloises Fortuna Racing.
The rain was falling, the riders were revved up, but the red lights failed to come on. The riders looked up in anticipation but all they could see was yellow flashing lights as the start was aborted. Pit crews streamed back onto the grid to restart the engines and one minute later the second warm up lap of the race was underway. Reduced to just 29 laps as a result, Rossi led his colleagues back around the saturated Donington Park circuit to try again, the rain hammering down onto the English circuit.

Round nine was finally a go, and Sete Gibernau took the lead with Rossi slipping down to 7th place. Biaggi slid on the wet track with teammate and the winner of the Laguna Seca event two weeks ago, Nicky Hayden, also falling victim to the conditions. Despite a few moments on the wet track, Rossi quickly made his way up to second place. Drivers were dropping like flies with Marco Melandri and Troy Bayliss sliding out of contention and race leader Sete Gibernau following suit, all within a few corners of each other.

Toni Elias.
Photo by Gauloises Fortuna Racing.
Rossi almost joined his rivals but managed to save the moment, if not the position as Alex Barros took the lead from the Italian. Struggling to stay on track, riders were cautious and John Hopkins took advantage of the situation and snatched the lead from Barros on his Bridgestone-shod Suzuki. A brave move on Barros elevated Rossi to second, but only momentarily as the Camel Honda rider fought back and moved back into the lead. All this in just seven laps!

Hopkins encountered problems and ran off the track, but thankfully he managed to keep going and rejoin the action after a visit to the pits. At the front of the field four riders kept changing positions, Barros, Rossi, Roberts and Edwards, while just twelve drivers remained in the actual race with two thirds still to run.

Race winner Valentino Rossi celebrates.
Photo by Gauloises Fortuna Racing.
A rare mistake from Rossi saw him lose several positions but the Yamaha rider wasn't discouraged and was soon back into second place. He continued to apply pressure to Barros, but remained behind him. He finally took the lead at the Melbourne hairpin on the 21st lap and stormed ahead, smashing the lap record in the process. From this point on, he didn't look back and went on to win his seventh race of the season in usual Rossi style.

Kenny Roberts finished second with Alex Barros third, Colin Edwards fourth, Carlos Checa fifth and Loris Capirossi in sixth.