After winning the opening round of the MotoGP championship for the previous five years, Valentino Rossi fell out of contention in yesterday's Spanish round on the first corner when his Camel Yamaha was clipped by another rider.
Rossi was tossed into the path of the oncoming pack but was not hit and gamely picked up his battered bike and got back into the race. Riding with a damaged foot-rest and brake lever, he salvaged two points by finishing in 14th place.
This was still a major blow for Rossi's Yamaha team, who were left to watch Loris Capirossi blaze to a start-to-finish win on his Marlboro Ducati, chased by Repsol Honda's exciting new signing, the 20-year-old Dani Pedrosa.
Fortuna Honda's Toni Elias was the guilty man who banged into Rossi's bike in front of 131,000 fans on the circuit. But the seven-times world champion was typically magnanimous after the race and declined to criticise Elias.
"That's racing," Rossi said. "He's young, he's Spanish and it was his first ride on a Honda, so there was a lot of pressure on him." More worrying for Rossi is the wheel chatter that plagued his 990cc bike throughout the weekend, and left him starting from the third row of the grid.
In third place, Nicky Hayden led home fellow Honda riders Elias, Marco Melandri and Casey Stoner, from Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano and Kenny Roberts Jnr.
Britain's Chaz Davies scored points for 13th place in the 250cc race and 15-year-old Bradley Smith finished his first grand prix in a creditable 17th place in the 125cc race.Reuse content