Stoner, Pedrosa, Hayden in Aragon

Cycle News Staff | September 19, 2010

Ducati Marlboro had a banner day in Spain, with Casey Stoner winning his first race in 11 months while teammate Nicky Hayden earned his first podium in over a year with a brilliant last lap pass of Jorge Lorenzo to take third in the first ever grand prix on the MotorLand Aragon. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was second.Following his first pole of the year since the Qatar season-opener, Stoner revealed that the team had dramatically altered the weight distribution of the Desmosedici GP 10. Stoner, back on the 2009 Ohlins forks, had renewed confidence in the front end and he showed it from the start.Stoner was away in a flash, but somewhat cautious. He’d slipped on a painted white line in morning warm-up-Hayden was fastest in the morning-and crashed. Meanwhile, Pedrosa had to fight his way to the front after botching the start and nearly crashing in the first corner. He took Hayden on the second lap and Lorenzo on the third, then began the march on Stoner.Pedrosa closed up on the Australian on the eighth and ninth of 23 laps, with the two fastest race laps, and again on the tenth. Then Stoner hit back, turning his personal best on the 11th lap and again on the 12th and Pedrosa was broken.For the final 11 laps Stoner continued to stretch the gap, celebrating his first win since last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix with a stand-up wheelie and a gap to Pedrosa of 6.148 secs.”A big relief, to be honest,” Stoner said when asked how it felt to finally get a win. “We had the first race almost wrapped up until I made a mistake and there’s been a couple of other moments through the year where we might’ve been in with a chance for a victory, but it’s just been a mistake due to my part.”And we’ve been struggling to get the bike set up well to really have it on pace. We’ve been close to Jorge and Dani, but just two-three-tenths a lap, and it’s almost impossible for me to make that difference. So this weekend we tried something completely different for us. since my operation, I noticed my body position not in the right area. We changed the bike completely. Since then we’ve had a much better feeling with the front end. So, we were able to get the bike working almost the way we wanted it to.””You know, had a little slip-off this morning, which was a little bit worrying going into the race. I was staying away from every white line I could. I didn’t want to get too close. But yeah we were able to pick up the pace when we needed to during the race and bring home a win. So for the team, for everyone who’s stuck by me, sorry it took so long.” Said Stoner. Said Pedrosa, “Well everything started on the start. I didn’t make the perfect start and the first corner, I slide, almost crash there and then I was I think back to fifth. Then I had two or three laps that I had to overtake some riders and then by then Casey (Stoner) was already far, far away.””I try to catch him, but the pace was almost the same. And I couldn’t. We were almost at the gap all the time and by the end I was struggling a lot with my tires. I had to, I said, ‘OK, this is it today.’ I try my best, but second place is not so bad and as we know our bike here was struggling more than others with the tires. But anyway, second is good and I’m happy and looking forward to Motegi.”Lorenzo had passed Hayden before the end of the first lap, then spent the rest of the race with the Kentuckian on his rear. Lorenzo was never able to get away as Hayden made his push at the end of the race. Hayden made his attack on the inside of the turn 15 left on the final lap, then used a top speed edge to hold off Lorenzo into the turn 16 left. Lorenzo kept the heat on, but Hayden wasn’t to be denied. The difference at the stripe was .084 secs.The podium was Hayden’s first since last year’s Indy GP, over a year ago. He’s been fourth three times this year, most recently at Silverstone.”Yeah, I really enjoyed it,” Hayden said. “The bike has worked really good this weekend. And the race was not easy. Me and Jorge (Lorenzo), I was able to stay there, stay there, but really nowhere I could ever really get a wheel in. And then the last couple of laps he was pushing hard and I just said, ‘Fourth, not again today,’ and was able to just make a move stick. Kind of a little backyard move in the chicane over there and hold him off to the line.””So it’s nice to be on the podium. It’s been a really good weekend for us. Was fastest this morning and on the podium, the first one of the year. It’s taken a while, but a big thanks to the team, sponsors and all my supporters. It’s nice to be up here and try to get up here again a few times before the season’s over. “Hayden’s third meant Lorenzo was off the podium for the first time this year, ending his streak of podiums at 13. (Lorenzo was third in last year’s finale at Valencia.)By finishing fourth, and Pedrosa second, Lorenzo saw his world championship lead slip slightly. He still leads Pedrosa by 56 points, 284 to 228, with Stoner third at 155 with five races to go.”My start was very good, but during the race I struggled a lot with Nicky always behind me, very close,” Lorenzo said. “We can’t be happy with the result and I am disappointed to finish my podium run, but the most important thing is that we did finish and we still took points for our championship. We have five more races to go and, although this is a complicated moment for us and we have some things to address, I am confident that we can improve again. Now we go to Motegi and I am looking forward to a good result at the home of Yamaha.”Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Ben Spies earned a hard-fought fifth. The Texan spent the race under pressure from Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso. Dovi surged ahead in a few corners late in the race, but couldn’t make it stick. He made one last charge on the final lap, only to crash out and hand Spies a secure fifth.”Dovi rode a great race,” Spies said. “He caught up to the back of me. We had a hellacious battle the last two laps. It all started off the back straightaway. We went back and forth. He passed me in turn eight. I retaliated back in turn 11 and ran a little wide and got to the next corner before him and I think he was trying to drive it around the outside of me on a little momentum and just lost the front. I barely caught it out of the corner of my eye…that I saw him crash and knew I had fifth then. But, yeah, we were both were fighting tooth and nail for that last fifth place for sure.”Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi had his worst finish of the year in sixth, and nearly 14 secs. behind Spies. The Yamahas all suffered from a top speed deficit, but that didn’t explain the finish. Rossi’s good friend Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was seventh.”This was a very difficult race for us; we had a lot of problems all weekend and I was very slow today,” Rossi said. “I had to try to arrive to the end but I couldn’t do better than sixth. All the Yamahas have suffered here but my shoulder problems made it even worse for me and this, combined with the problems with our package at this track, made it extra hard. We’re very sad this afternoon and we hope for better in Japan.”The battle for eighth went to Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista, the lone representative of the team-Loris Capirossi was out with an injured finger-taking the spot on the penultimate lap when Hector Barbera (Paginas Amarillas Ducati) slipped from eighth to tenth. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri also passed Barbera to take ninth. And on the final lap Pramac Racing’s Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) took Barbera for 10th.Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards was a disappointing and solitary 12th.The final two finishers were Interwetten Honda MotoGP’s Hiroshi Aoyama and Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio.Now the series has a weekend off before the final push, five races in six weeks, with the last overseas swing of Japan, Malaysia, Australia on consecutive weekends kicking it off on the first weekend in October.MotoGP Results:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati)

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

3. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

5. Ben Spies (Yamaha)

6. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

7. Marco Simoncelli (Honda)

8. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki)

9. Marco Melandri (Honda)

10. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati)

11. Hector Barbera (Ducati)

12. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

13. Hector Aoyama (Honda)

14. Mika Kallio (Ducati)