• Dani Pedrosa wins German grand prix ahead of Jorge Lorenzo
• Rossi just outside podium places six weeks after breaking leg
Valentino Rossi missed out on a podium finish on his return from a broken leg as Dani Pedrosa breathed life back into the MotoGP title race with victory in the German grand prix at the Sachsenring. A fourth-place finish capped an amazing comeback weekend for Rossi, who qualified fifth yesterday, six weeks after suffering a compound fracture of his right shin in a horrific highside in Italian grand prix practice at Mugello.
The 31-year-old, who has been able to walk around the paddock only with the aid of crutches, could not match the pace of the title contenders Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, but the Fiat Yamaha rider was more than a match for the rest of the field, enjoying a superb battle with his old foe Casey Stoner during the closing laps.
Rossi was delighted with his performance but also went out of his way to criticise Stoner, accusing the Australian of only raising his game when he had caught him. The pair have enjoyed an intense rivalry since Stoner joined Ducati in 2007, and their magnificent battle at the 2008 United States Grand Prix in Laguna Seca ended with Stoner accusing his rival of dangerous riding.
“I have never been so happy for a fourth place. I’m happy with the way I drove, but I lacked a bit of feeling,” said Rossi. “I competed with everyone, only against Dovizioso did I lose time. I had a great battle with Stoner, when he saw me he really let loose, but MotoGP needs these type of races. The next time I should wear the colours of some other rider. If Stoner had finished behind me he would have whined like he did at Laguna Seca in the past years, but this is racing.”
Rossi also paid tribute to the medical team who have helped him make his remarkable recovery. He said: “I want to thank everyone who helped me return to the track. Now I’m thinking about Laguna Seca where I will aim for the podium.”
For Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa the win ends Lorenzo’s run of three straight victories and sees him close his Spanish compatriot’s lead at the top of the standings to 47 points. Pedrosa got the jump to lead into turn one at the start, as Rossi dropped to seventh, but Lorenzo quickly made his move at the end of lap two to take over at the front.
Things remained the same at the front while Rossi moved up to fifth before the race was red flagged after an accident involving the Honda of Randy de Puniet. The Frenchman fell and his bike was hit by Aleix Espargaró and the Suzuki of Alvaro Bautista. With pieces of the three bikes scattered across the track, officials stopped the race. De Puniet suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his left leg.
Pedrosa again took the lead from Lorenzo at the restart, and once again the Yamaha rider reclaimed the advantage at the end of the opening lap. Rossi had dropped to sixth but he passed Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso to move to fourth.
At the front Lorenzo could not shake off the attentions of Pedrosa. The Honda rider had an ambitious but unsuccessful lunge at turn one on lap eight, but one lap later Pedrosa completed the pass and he would not be headed for the rest of the race, with Lorenzo forced to settle for second.Rossi worked his way on to the back wheel of Stoner, the 2007 world champion, and the pair enjoyed a wonderful battle during the final nine laps as the Yamaha and Ducati swapped places. The battle was settled when Stoner forced Rossi wide at the final corner to give himself an easy run to the finish line
Hayden and Dovizioso finished fifth and sixth with Marco Simoncelli, Ben Spies, Hector Barbera and Marco Melandri completing the top 10. Loris Capirossi and Alex de Angelis were the last riders home in 11th and 12th.
Sport: Motor sport | guardian.co.uk