Returning Rossi misses out on podium finish in Germany

Valentino Rossi just missed out on a remarkable podium finish on his return from a broken leg yesterday as Dani Pedrosa breathed life back into the MotoGP title race with victory in the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.

A fourth-placed finish capped an amazing comeback weekend from Rossi, who had qualified fifth on Saturday, exactly 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 only been able to walk around the paddock with the aid of a crutch, could not quite match the pace of 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 old foe Casey Stoner during the closing laps.

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For Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa the win ends Lorenzo's run of three straight victories and sees him shrink his Spanish compatriot's lead at the top of the standings to 47 points.

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 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 the seven-time MotoGP champion. "I competed with everyone, only against Dovizioso did I lose time.

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"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 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: Doctor Buzzi who operated on me in Florence, Doctor Porcellini, and Doctor Lucidi. Thanks also to Doctor Costa. Now I'm thinking about Laguna Seca where I will aim for the podium."

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Tommy Hill regained the lead in the British Superbike Championship after Josh Brookes was denied a hat-trick of wins by a machine problem in the third race of the seventh round at Snetterton.

Brookes, riding HM Plant Honda, had won Saturday's race, which had been re-scheduled from the washed-out Knockhill round, and followed that with victory in the first of yesterday's races to leave the Australian well placed next time out when his bike expired.

Ryuichi Kiyonari took his fourth victory of the season ahead of Hill, who had earlier shown consistency aboard the Worx Suzuki with third and second placings.

"We've re-grouped, gelled back and come out fighting. Now we are back to where we need to be, and where we should be," said Hill.

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