Stoner Ends Rossi’s Reign in Mugello

Paul Carruthers | May 31, 2009

Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner ended Valentino Rossi’s seven-year reign at Mugello with a stirring victory in a flag-to-flag race of changing conditions on the historic circuit north of Florence, while Rossi fell to third behind Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.Stoner’s second win of the season was also Ducati’s first at the circuit south of the firm’s headquarters in Bologna and gives him the world championship lead with 90 points to 86 for Lorenzo and 81 for Rossi.The win was the first for someone other than Rossi since 2001 when he crashed two laps from the end in a race won by Alex Barros.”Of course I am disappointed not to win again in Mugello but seven times in a row is not so bad and the important thing is that I made it onto the podium,” Rossi said. “It’s a very special moment in Mugello, with all the fans below, and I would have been very sad to have missed that!”It was a very hard race today and once again the weather was a problem for us, we’re very unlucky in these half-and-half races and I think this is my first podium in one. In the wet we were very fast because we had found a great setting, but then when we changed bikes we made a mistake and chose a front tire that was too hard, so it took me a long time to be able to put enough temperature on it and I lost a lot of time.”At the end I was able to ride better and I knew that I had to make it onto the podium, so I am happy for this. Of course after Le Mans this is a big improvement and these points are important because it’s very close between the three of us.”As in Le Mans two weeks ago, the riders started on rain tires before pitting for slicks. But even before the start there was drama when Lorenzo crashed on the sighting lap, forcing him to pit to change bikes. He started the race with mud-covered leathers.LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet got the jump on the field, only to be passed by Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen early on. The first lap ended with Vermeulen in front of Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso and Stoner, then Rossi and Lorenzo, who’d spun on the line and was consumed by the field.Stoner first took the lead with the draft on lap two as the order shuffled behind and the track continued to dry. Dovizioso was on the march and took the lead on the fourth lap with an inside move in the final corner, Vermeulen third and Rossi closing in fourth.Rossi moved past Vermeulen down the straight on lap six and passed Stoner at the end of the lap. Meanwhile, Marco Melandri was the fastest rider on the track on the Kawasaki.By now riders were coming in to switch to their second bikes, fitted with slick tires and the order was constantly changing. . On lap seven Melandri was up to third, behind Dovizioso and Rossi, putting Italians 1-2-3 in their home race.Rossi took the lead down the home straight on the eighth lap as Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden came in to change bikes.The fastest rider on the track was Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s James Toseland, the first rider to swap to slicks. The pace of bike changes would soon speed up.Melandri took the lead on tenth lap, a stunning move from 15th on the grid. But it was short-lived as he, Rossi, Lorenzo, and Stoner all came in. Everyone was now on slicks.Ending the 11th lap Dovizioso had nearly three seconds on Stoner, then Melandri, Lorenzo, Capirossi and Rossi.Stoner began to close on the next lap and on the 13th Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was out. The Spaniard, riding with a badly injured right leg, did high-sided out of a left-hander.Stoner set the fastest lap of the day on the 14th to take the lead. Capirossi was in second and very briefly in the lead, but never across the stripe.Then Stoner gapped Capirossi by just over half a second by lowering the fast lap time repeatedly.The top five were covered by 2.37 secs. ending the 19th of 23 laps, Stoner leading Capirossi, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Rossi. Rossi took fourth on the 21st lap and on the next lap Lorenzo took second from Capirossi on the straight, the Italian running wide in turn one and allowing Rossi to close up. Rossi took the spot later the same lap and the podium was set. Dovizioso took Capirossi early on the final lap to set the top five.”Honestly, this is as good as a win for me and I can’t really believe the race today, it was like a movie,” Lorenzo said. “This morning in warm-up I was quite worried because I was slow in the rain, then on the sighting lap I slid off into the gravel pit. All I could think about was making it back to the pits as quickly as possible in case there was still a chance to make the grid and luckily I made it just in time.”Then a gap of 21 secs. to Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards, who made up several places in the second half of the race to beat teammate James Toseland for eighth.”I probably should have come in for my dry bike a couple of laps earlier than I did, but with the hard compound front and rear slick in, it took me a while to get temperature in them and I was having a few moments” Edwards said. “I just put my head down and was able to get down to some decent times and to take the positive out of the race I at least came back to finish in the top six because I was way back.”De Puniet was a close ninth with a gap of nearly six seconds on Pramac Racing’s Niccolo Canepa.Vermeulen landed in tenth, one up on Melandri, who fell to 11th after leading the race. Hayden was 12th.MotoGP:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati)

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

5. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)

6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

7. James Toseland (Yamaha)

8. Randy De Puniet (Honda)

9. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati)

10. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)

11. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki)

12. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

13. Mika Kallio (Ducati)

14. Toni Elias (Honda)

15. Alex De Angelis (Honda)

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.