Valentino Rossi rides with a donkey

Valentino Rossi can remove the donkey from his helmet after galloping to victory from pole in the San Marino Grand Prix on Sept. 6 at Misano Adriatico, Italy. Six-time MotoGP World Champion Rossi beat Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, winner of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, by 2.416 seconds. Dani Pedrosa finished third on his Repsol Honda Team machine.

Rossi expanded his lead to 30 points over Lorenzo with four races remaining. "Since Indianapolis, when I made that mistake, we have been so focused and concentrated, and everyone deserves this result," Rossi said. "I was the ‘flying donkey’ today!"

Rossi traditionally picks a special helmet design for the two Italian rounds in MotoGP, and he placed a large donkey face from the movie "Shrek" on his helmet for this event because he was embarrassed about crashing out of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"I have the donkey on it because in Italy, if you make a stupid mistake we say that you are a donkey," Rossi said. "As soon as I hit the ground at Indianapolis, I thought what a donkey I was."

Rossi was perfect at his home event, as he grew up about 5 miles from the Misano circuit. He dropped from pole to third on the first lap, which included a pileup triggered by San Marino native Alex de Angelis that took out Americans Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden.

Pedrosa and Toni Elias dueled for the lead in the early laps, but Rossi passed Lorenzo and Elias for second on Lap 5. On the next lap, he passed Pedrosa and began to pull away, creating too large of a gap for Lorenzo to bridge once he passed Pedrosa for second.

Edwards and Hayden qualified fifth and sixth, respectively. But neither could fulfill that promising qualifying pace into a strong race result due to an over-optimistic late-braking maneuver on the first lap by de Angelis, who finished second Aug. 30 at Indianapolis.

De Angelis’ San Carlo Honda Gresini machine pile-drove into the left side of Edwards’ Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine in the left-handed Turn 2, sending both tumbling into the gravel. Edwards’ sprawling machine then clipped the rear wheel of Hayden’s Ducati, also dropping Hayden into the gravel.

"We are in Italy, and occasionally you have to deal with an Italian rider who wants to be a hero, and today that was de Angelis," Edwards said. "Turn 1 at the start with 17 bikes is not the place to be going at race pace, and he was never going to make through there. Today de Angelis is the guy who needed to be wearing Valentino’s donkey helmet."

See: Donkey Helmet Pictures

The next event is the Grand Prix of Portugal on Oct. 4 at Estoril.

Other articles you will enjoy: