Andrea Dovizioso claimed his maiden MotoGP victory in an incredible British Grand Prix at a drizzly Donington Park.
The Honda rider just held off a charging Colin Edwards and Randy de Puniet, on a day when Valentino Rossi could only finish fifth after falling while battling for the lead with Dovizioso.
However he still extended his points lead as Jorge Lorenzo crashed out, Dani Pedrosa tumbled down the order as conditions worsened, and Casey Stoner finished a lap down following a disastrous tire gamble.
The 30-lap race was declared wet before the start, but all riders started on dry tires expect for the factory Ducati riders, with Stoner and Nicky Hayden starting on wets in the hope of an imminent downpour.
But the rain did not properly hit the track in the first half of the race, and when it did it did not last long and it was not heavy.
While the two Ducati riders fell to the back of the pack within the first lap, the rest of the field battled tooth and nail, with the lead changing from Rossi to Lorenzo, to Toni Elias and back to Lorenzo, and then to Elias again within the hectic opening lap.
Dovizioso, who almost crashed while trying to overtake Rossi on lap two, managed to make the move stick on the following lap before overtaking Lorenzo and Elias to grab the lead on the third lap.
It was then Lorenzo's turn to get back at the front on lap six, but it only lasted for three laps, when the Spaniard crashed his Yamaha under braking on the white paint at the Esses and retired on the spot, one lap after Elias had a high-side with his Gresini Honda as he battled with Pedrosa for fourth place.
Rossi thus inherited the lead with Dovizioso right behind him for the following 11 laps, until the reigning world champion lost the rear of his Yamaha in the chicane when the rain increased, and handed the lead to the young charger. Rossi, however, was able to rejoin, albeit in 11th place.
At that point Dovizioso had a large ten-second lead over de Puniet, which increased to more than 12s with seven laps to go. But that was when the LCR Honda rider, who had a major battle with Pedrosa until the rain worsened, began to close the gap.
Also making strides through the field was Edwards, whose Tech 3 Yamaha did not even figure in the top ten for the first third of the race. But within the following 15 laps the American got up to third and on the tail of de Puniet.
The two riders looked perfectly able to beat Dovizioso, with the gap down to 1.6s with three laps to go, but then the pair got into a battle with each other that saw them fail to get closer to the race leader, who was able to win with 1.3s in hand over Edwards.
Seven seconds behind de Puniet came Alex de Angelis (Gresini Honda) whose solid ride was good for an impressive fourth place.
Following his crash, Rossi salvaged an important fifth place, thanks to overtaking James Toseland's Tech 3 Yamaha on the final lap, while Marco Melandri classified his Hayate Kawasaki in seventh.
Niccolo Canepa had by far his best race of his rookie year by ending up eighth while his Pramac Ducati team-mate Mika Kallio finished in tenth.
Between them was Pedrosa in a disappointing ninth place. On a day when all his rivals made mistakes he did not, he was just too slow when the rain increased.
Stoner and Hayden finished last a lap down in 14th and 15th positions respectively, after the two were lapped by the race leaders even before the mid point of the race.RESULTS:
Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 48m26.267s
2. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha + 1.360s
3. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda + 1.600s
4. Alex de Angelis Gresini Honda + 8.958s
5. Valentino Rossi Yamaha + 21.622s
6. James Toseland Tech 3 Yamaha + 22.465s
7. Marco Melandri Hayate Kawasaki + 35.284s
8. Niccolo Canepa Pramac Ducati + 38.769s
9. Dani Pedrosa Honda + 42.112s
10. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati + 45.845s
11. Loris Capirossi Suzuki + 53.190s
12. Gabor Talmacsi Scot Honda +1m12.315s
13. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki + 1 lap
14. Casey Stoner Ducati + 1 lap
15. Nicky Hayden Ducati + 1 lap
Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 8 laps
Toni Elias Gresini Honda 7 laps