It's hard to call any Valentino Rossi victory unexpected, but even the Italian doubted that his M1 was capable of winning Sunday's German Grand Prix from eleventh on the grid.
After struggling to find the right set-up and consequently lapping over one second from pole during qualifying - while championship leader Nicky Hayden was a close third - the odds were stacked heavily against Rossi as he aimed to close the Repsol Honda rider's 35 point lead with another win.
However the reigning five times world champion, in the words of Camel Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards, "pulled out something like his 700th miracle" on race day to not only catch - but then beat - a trio of pace setting Hondas by the smallest of margins, while the next best Yamaha of Carlos Checa finished ninth and Edwards crossed the line down in twelfth.
"That was an unbelievable race for me and my team. The first thing I have to say is 'sorry' to my M1 because last night was the first time in our relationship that I ever doubted her!" smiled Rossi ".
But she was true to me once again and for this I owe a huge thank you to Jeremy and all my mechanics and engineers.
"Last night I didn't think I could win this race but we made a change in the morning warm-up and then again before the race in the afternoon and today my M1 flew. In some parts of the track it was very, very fast. We also did a great job together with Michelin and at the start I realised that my rhythm was good enough to battle for the win."
Rossi had passed four riders by the end of the first lap to immediately get in contact with the lead group, then carefully picking off Kenny Roberts and Makoto Tamada before working his way past Hayden, pole sitter Dani Pedrosa and Marco Melandri to lead by lap 13 of 30.
The Italian held on to a slim advantage for all but one of the remaining laps, when Melandri made one of his many moves stick, before holding off a barrage of attacks from all three rivals in a dramatic final corner to seal his fourth win of a breathtaking season..
"Once I got to the front I knew I was probably two or three tenths faster than the other guys but it wasn't enough to escape and I had to battle with Dani, Nicky and Marco – each one was a great fight" said Rossi. "Marco was so strong at the end of the race and I have to give my big congratulations to him, but thankfully I got the right line in the last corner and I was able to win."
Rossi celebrated in his own inimitable style, donning an Italian football shirt adorned with the name of controversial star Marco Materazzi. "Italy became world champions in the football last weekend and I won today; Germany is a good country for us and it is a good sign!" beamed a jubilant #46.
Valentino now trails Hayden by 26 points in the championship heading into the American's home race at Laguna Seca next weekend.
"Valentino was unbelievable today, fantastic. This was a very important victory for the championship because we've collected a lot of points but more than that it is a big psychological boost to win a fight in this way," declared team director Davide Brivio. "This victory is a fruit of the hard work from the engineers, the team and Valentino – we have a great group of people here and they never give up. We always try to win races and today Valentino made it possible."
"Valentino is on another planet after what he has done today," added Tech 3 Yamaha team director Herve Poncharal.