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Valentino Rossi salvages podium at Phillip Island
In dramatic flag to flag race
Valentino Rossi clinched the final spot on the podium with a daring manoeuvre in the very last corner of a dramatic flag-to-flag race, the first of its kind in MotoGP, held in mixed weather conditions at Phillip Island this afternoon.

drama started on the warm-up lap when a light shower meant that the race was recalled as wet, giving the riders chance to change tyres on the grid. However, with track conditions still relatively dry they all opted to stay on slicks until the rain intensified – Rossi eventually coming in to pit on lap eight, having battled back to third after dropping to ninth after a poor start from the front row.

The Italian's team-mate Colin Edwards had also been about to come in and change his tyres on the same lap but the American was caught out by a slippery patch of track in the middle of the second corner, which caused the rear tyre of his YZR-M1 machine to lose grip and step out before digging in again and throwing him over the handlebars. Edwards landed hard on his backside and was badly winded but thankfully he escaped any serious injury.

Rossi jumped onto his second bike and headed back out onto the track, although over- cautiousness on the wet tyres saw him lose several places and drop to eighth. After a brief battle with eventual winner Marco Melandri (Honda), Rossi took a few laps to carefully judge the condition of a track that had now begun to dry out again, making the performance of the wet tyres difficult to predict.

Over the closing laps he picked up his pace and launched a typical charge past several riders, culminating in a thrilling final corner move on Sete Gibernau (Ducati) that sealed third place and moved him up to second in the championship, 21 points behind Nicky Hayden (Honda), who finished fifth. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) completed the podium in second place.

VALENTINO ROSSI (3rd; +10.526)
“I'm a little disappointed with third place because I know that in dry conditions we had a very good set-up and I think the result could have been better. Anyway, we can't do anything about the weather and in these circumstances I have to be thankful for third place because we have pulled some more points back on Nicky. After we changed the bike I lost a few places because I didn't have a good feeling initially on the wet tyre. Honestly I think this was my fault because once I found my rhythm I realized my M1 was in good shape and I was able to push more. I'm really happy with the second half of the race because the gap to Sete was seven seconds, but I made my mind up to try and pass him and my bike and my Michelin tyre worked very well to the end. I saw the red dot getting bigger and bigger and to pass him in the last corner was excellent. I would have liked to win for the sixth time here but at least I got to celebrate on the podium in front of all these wonderful fans. Now we are 21 points behind – it is a lot, but not impossible.”

“That was a weird race. I actually got a decent start and I felt comfortable out there, but I think this flag to flag racing is dangerous. I think most of us thought we'd just keep riding until somebody crashed, and wouldn't you just know it – that person was me. I'd actually made my mind up to pit and I held my leg out to the crew as I came down the straight to warn them, so I wasn't pushing any harder than I had done on the previous lap. I was off the brakes and off the gas, just tipping it into turn two, when the rear stepped out then dug in and threw me into a handstand. I came down real hard on my backside and that's where the pain is right now. I'm extra disappointed because we'd done a good job with the bike this weekend and if it stayed dry we were all set for a top result. Unfortunately it seems whenever they put the race back an hour it gives the weather a chance to move in. I guess that's live television for you!”

“It's good news that Colin is not hurt after his crash, and it's really unlucky that it happened when he was going so well and after he had made such good progress this weekend. He could have had a good race so it's a pity for him. Today with Valentino we got five important points on Hayden, so in such difficult conditions, when it was very easy to make mistakes, we can consider this a very positive result. Well done to everyone in the team for managing a difficult situation so well. Although it wasn't the result we were hoping for today, all in all we're happy.”
Camel Yamaha

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     Ducati men thwarted by Island weather
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     Stunning podium for Vermeulen on home soil
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