Andrea Dovizioso won the last British Grand Prix to be staged at Donington Park as the top three riders in the FIM MotoGP World Championship had a race to forget yesterday.
The Repsol Honda rider won his first ever grand prix in the premier class after the Fiat Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo both crashed while leading in front of nearly 90,000 fans.
Rossi was able to remount his bike and finish fifth to increase his championship lead over Lorenzo to 25 points but will rue throwing away the chance to establish a stranglehold on another title.
The Marlboro Ducati rider and 2007 world champion Casey Stoner also had a bad afternoon as his tyre gamble backfired to leave him in 14th place.
British rider James Toseland took his Tech 3 Yamaha to a sixth-place finish as British fans said goodbye to Donington ahead of next year's move to Silverstone.
The inclement weather which had blighted the whole weekend again caused drama as Ducati duo Stoner and Nicky Hayden started with wet tyres on a dry track. However, the rain held off until light showers near the end and Stoner soon found himself at the back of the field as Toni Elias – who qualified eighth – was the surprise leader in the first two laps.
Lorenzo soon took the lead and built an advantage before Elias suffered a high-speed crash when he highsided after drifting on to the wet kerbs at Starkey's Bridge. Lorenzo then crashed out on lap eight after losing the front end at Goddards and, despite his frantic efforts to retrieve his bike, he was forced to retire.
Rossi appeared set for a routine win but then crashed himself at the Foggy Esses to hand Dovizioso his maiden win ahead of Colin Edwards and Randy De Puniet.
Alex De Angelis was fourth with Toseland set for a career-best fifth until the masterful Rossi somehow clawed his way back past on the final lap.
For Edwards, it was a first podium of the year, but the Texan admitted that negotiating the slippery circuit had been extremely hazardous. He said: "That was 48 minutes of hell. I wouldn't wish that race on my worst enemy. Every corner you didn't know if you were going to fall off or not as half the circuit was wet and half of it dry. I did not enjoy that at all.
"But I have a new tactic for riding in the wet. I now use a dark visor so you can't see where the wet patches are as everyone rides faster when they can't see where they're going."
Earlier, Hiroshi Aoyama won the 250cc race while Julian Simon strengthened his grip on the FIM 125cc world championship as he won a rain-interrupted race.
The British rider Scott Redding, who was the winner last year, came third on his Blusens Aprilia. Redding said: "It feels as good as winning did last year. I had struggled all weekend and when the race was red-flagged I wasn't happy as I didn't want to lose sixth place.
"But when I came in for the second part my team said that, as there were only five laps left I had nothing to lose, so it was do or die. A few people crashed out which helped but I'm delighted with a podium at my home grand prix."
Elsewhere, Ben Spies bounced back from an opening-race retirement to claim victory in race two at the FIM Superbike World Championship round at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic and close the gap to standings leader Noriyuki Haga to seven points.
The American held off a spirited late charge by opening-race winner Max Biaggi after leading from the second turn to come home 0.213seconds ahead of the Italian. The Yamaha WSB rider, who saw a coming together with Michel Fabrizio put paid to his hopes in race one, swept past Troy Corser on the first corner, after the Australian had briefly snatched the lead, and never looked back.
Fabrizio finished in third, with Ten Kate Honda duo Jonathan Rea of Britain and Carlos Checa from Spain fourth and fifth. Biaggi had earlier taken victory in race one after profiting from that collision between Spies and Michel Fabrizio.
He finished 3.631sec ahead of Checa, while Rea was third.