Colin Edwards produced one of his greatest MotoGP performances to bid farewell to the British Grand Prix at Donington Park with a stunning second place this afternoon.
And making it double delight for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team, James Toseland fought superbly in treacherous conditions to equal his best MotoGP result with sixth position.
A dramatic race started slowly for Edwards as the American rode tentatively in the opening stages while he assessed tricky track conditions and soft compound front tyre he was using for the first time this weekend. With light rain falling on sections of the Leicestershire track throughout, Edwards dropped back to 15th and at the end of lap seven he was only in 13th.
The 35-year-old then commenced a breathtaking charge through the field to move into fifth position on lap 20, with Edwards producing an exhibition of riding in mixed conditions.
He was comfortably the fastest rider on the track when he moved into third on lap 23 with a pass on Dani Pedrosa to set up a thrilling finale to the 30-lap race. Having trailed Randy de Puniet by over ten seconds at the halfway point, Edwards exchanged overtakes with the French rider in the closing stages before securing his fifth MotoGP second place on the last lap. He was just 1.360s away from race winner Andrea Dovizioso at the chequered flag to secure his 11th MotoGP rostrum.
Toseland gave the huge 89,977-strong home crowd plenty to cheer about too, the British rider constantly posing a threat for the top six as he was locked in an exciting fight with Loris Capirossi, Marco Melandri and Mika Kallio for much of the race.
The 28-year-old looked on course for a career best fifth place on the last lap until he came under a late attack from reigning world champion Valentino Rossi, the Italian pushing Toseland back to sixth with an overtake at the penultimate corner.
Colin Edwards Speaks... (2nd Place)
"That was a pretty intense 48 minutes but at the start there was no way I thought I was going to be on the podium. I'm not sure what happened at the start but I just had guys coming by everywhere. I was using a front tyre I'd not used all weekend and it took me a while to get a feel for it. Once I got some momentum going and I started to understand how the front tyre was feeling I started pushing my way through. But with about seven or eight laps to go I started having some big moments because it was hard to know where it was raining and where it wasn't. And all the time you're trying to figure out where there's grip and where there isn't. It was easy to mistake and the left side of the rear tyre was pretty cold and that just helped make it even more mentally draining because you need to concentrate so hard. I could see I was catching Randy really quick and we got into a good battle. He was faster than me in some parts and I was better in others but luckily I passed him on the last lap and made it stick. By that time though Andrea was too far ahead to think about pushing on for that first win, but second is a great way to finish at Donington. I've got to say a big thanks to my guys at Tech 3 because they always give me great support. Yamaha and Bridgestone too were just awesome today, so I'm really happy."
James Toseland Speaks... (6th Place)
"I don't know where to start after a race like that. It was so difficult for the entire race to gauge how much rain was falling and where it was falling and it took incredible concentration. I got my head down and was fifth on the first lap but just after halfway I was back in tenth because I was struggling for temperature in the left side of the tyre. I was wondering whether to pull in or not and change for the rain tyres at one point but I carried on and kept my lap times as consistent as I could because it was so easy to make a mistake. With some of the other guys stopping to switch bikes, I made up a few places and was fifth for the final few laps and thinking I was going to get my best ever MotoGP result. That would have been amazing to do that in front of my home crowd, who were absolutely magnificent with their support today. But at the end Valentino (Rossi) came through so strong on the last lap. He passed me at The Esses but I managed to dive back under him, but he was phenomenal on the brakes at the Melbourne Loop. I wasn't going to try and do anything that might take us both out but it's another sixth place and it definitely makes amends for the big disappointment of last year. Congratulations to Colin too because he rode a great race and deserved a podium."
Herve Poncharal Speaks... (Team Manager)
"That was an incredibly dramatic race and an unbelievable performance from Colin. It was a really difficult race in those conditions and I think Colin made the right decision not to come into the pits and switch for the rain tyres. He coped brilliantly in tough conditions on the slick tyres and at stages in the race his lap times were very impressive. For several laps he was easily the fastest rider on track and the way he came through the field provided a great spectacle for the British fans. I am so happy for him and everybody at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 for all their hard work this season. Colin might be one of the oldest guys on the grid but he proved again today that you don't have to be young in MotoGP to be fast. Honestly though it is hard not to have a little bit of regret when you finish so close to the victory but we can only be happy. I also want to say congratulations to James because he also produced a tremendous performance. He was under a lot of pressure in front of his crowd after the disappointment of last year but today we saw he can handle it in really difficult conditions. It would have been great for him to have held off Valentino for his best MotoGP result because he deserved it for the way he rode. But I have nothing but praise for both of them today."