Valentino Rossi took advantage of another mistake from Casey Stoner to claim the checkers at Misano. The Yamaha ace took over the lead from Stoner when the Ducati pilot binned his Desmosedici while running in the lead. Joining Rossi on the podium were teammate Jorge Lorenzo and another surprising result from Alice Ducati rider Toni Elias.
Starting from second it was a momentous win for Rossi, who with 68 now equals the career total of the winningest Grand Prix rider, Giacomo Agostini. The Doctor can also mark the San Marino circuit off his career checklist, with only the upcoming Indianapolis Motor Speedway remaining as winless Rossi GP tracks. Oh, yeah, Rossi could also sit out three races and be no worse than tied for first in the points thanks to his sizable 75-point cushion.
“Today is a truly fantastic day and I can’t believe that I have matched Agostini’s record! He was one of my heroes so it’s quite incredible to have made it to 68 wins,” said Rossi of his momentous milestone, going on to say of Stoner’s misfortune. “I’m sorry for him once again but this is very good for our championship so I am happy for our team. We have 75 points, which is a lot, but there are still five races and I will ride to win at every one, as I always have done throughout my career.”
A counterpoint to Rossi’s mastery is Stoner. A month ago the defending champ was primed to make a charge at his rival for the ’08 title, but after getting beaten at Laguna Seca the Aussie has failed to finish a race, crashing out both Brno and now Misano while in a commanding lead.
“Basically we took the decision to put one lap on the race tire in warm-up this morning to get it scrubbed in: we’ve done it before and not had a problem but today I could feel from the first lap that the grip wasn’t right,” said Stoner. “After a few laps it started to feel better and I was gaining confidence but it let go. It’s a real shame but, anyway, we tried hard here and once again I think we’ve shown we are very fast, we have a great bike and tires that work fantastically. This gives me confidence for next year and I’m looking forward to it already.”
Getting back to his early season form, Jorge Lorenzo stormed his way past Dani Pedrosa (fourth) in the opening laps to claim a confidence-inspiring second place. It is the fifth podium of the year for the rookie, who sits fourth in the overall points.
As for Elias, the Spaniard continues to muster up unexpected podiums just when he seems irrelevant in the MotoGP shuffle. It is the second consecutive podium for the satellite Ducati rider, who is intent on finishing out 2008 strong.
“After Laguna Seca things have changed radically,” said Elias. “I always had much better feeling with the bike and the results prove it. I hope to continue this way for the rest of the season. I would love to fight for the Podium at each Gran Prix. I know it’s not easy but I will try.”
The top finishing Honda rider was Repsol ace Dani Pedrosa, who it was learned will race on Bridgestone rubber the remainder of the season beginning at Indy. Following the Spaniard was Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen and Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland. Vermeulen survived a near crash in the opening laps, but fought back from 13th to score his top five finish.
Loris Capirossi celebrated a seventh-place result, with the Misano race making him the most active rider ever to race Grand Prix with 277 appearances. Capirex was followed in the results sheet by JiR’s Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati’s Marco Melandri and Tech 3’s Colin Edwards.
Sylvain Guintoli, Shinya Nakano, Anthony West and John Hopkins fill the final spots on the finishing results, with DNFs credited to Honda riders Alex de Angelis and Randy de Puniet.
Nicky Hayden did not race at Misano, the American electing not to further aggravate a foot injury sustained while competing in the X Games Supermoto race. Instead the Kentucky Kid will focus on making a triumphant return at the first ever running of MotoGP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
MotoGP Misano Results:
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 44’41.884
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team + 3.163
3. Toni Elias (SPA) Alice Team + 11.705
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda + 17.470
5. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki + 23.409
6. James Toseland (GBR) Tech 3 Yamaha + 26.208
7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 26.824
8. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) JiR Team Scot MotoGP + 27.591
9. Marco Melandri (ITA) Ducati Marlboro + 33.169
10. Colin Edwards (USA) Tech 3 Yamaha + 36.529
11. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Alice Team + 42.081
12. Shinya Nakano (JPN) San Carlo Honda Gresini + 43.808
13. Anthony West (AUS) Kawasaki Racing + 54.874
14. John Hopkins (USA) Kawasaki Racing + 55.154
Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro 21 Lap
Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini 27
Lap Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 28 Lap