DERBY, ENGLAND, JUNE 22: Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner took advantage of a breakthrough in his electronics to power to his second win of the season before a crowd of 88,831 on a windblown and partly sunny day in the British Grand Prix at Donington Park.
Starting from the pole position, which he’d set in Saturday’s wet qualifying session, the 22-year-old Australian jetted into the lead, never to be headed.
Stoner was able to stretch the gap at will, pushing it over six seconds before leaving a few tenths on the track with a celebratory stand-up wheelie.
The margin of victory was 5.789 seconds.
"It’s just, it’s better for us in the fact that we know we can fight a little bit harder," Stoner said. "These last three races have been pretty good for us. We’ve been able to run towards the front again, and considering the first few races after Qatar, you know, they were just a disaster for us. It’s nice to be back on track and this weekend’s just gone well. We started from the first session having some pretty good lap times and it’s just improved since then. Wet and dry we’ve been very competitive.
"I have to thank my team a lot. We’ve been working pretty hard to try and solve what our problem is this year. And we hope that this system that we’re using now isn’t just going to be good for these two tracks that we’ve tested on, that it can go to all of the circuits for the rest of the championship. But we’re very, very happy to be running up front again."
It was Stoner’s second win in a row on the track in the British East Midlands where he made his grand prix debut seven years ago.
The battle for second didn’t form up until the eighth of 30 laps when Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finally made it up front his ninth place starting spot to pass JiR Team Scot MotoGP’s Andrea Dovizioso. That set the Spaniard free to make a run at Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, who was second from the start.
Pedrosa attacked more than once, taking the spot on the track, but Rossi was quick to strike back and led across the stripe every time.
In the final laps Rossi was able to gap his closest championship pursuer, beating him by 2.558 seconds.
By keeping Pedrosa at bay, Rossi was able to add four points to his championship lead. He now leads 162 to 151 after eight of 18 rounds. With his victory, Stoner moved into third with 117.
"Yes, I try to stay with Casey (Stoner) at the beginning with the good start, but unfortunately today was not possible for us and I try to anyway to push a lot because I know that Dani (Pedrosa) maybe come back," Rossi said. "And when I see on my board his name, start the battle, and I try to stay in front, because in some corner I’m not fast enough. I have some problem. And was difficult, like always.
"But anyway, I’m very happy to arrive second because these 20 points are important for the championship and we try next week in Assen to make better."
Said Pedrosa, "Yes, I’m happy because the race was hard. I started from the back and I did a good start, but it was so difficult to get in front in short meters. But I start to pass some riders and then I try to be as fast as possible on top, because Stoner and Rossi were going fast. So finally, I could only arrive third.
"It’s good, but we have to improve. But I’m happy about the result because the weekend was quite difficult for me, this time, so third is OK."
Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards was a disappointed fourth. The Texan made a slow start before moving his way through the field. He passed Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden for fifth on the 17th lap before taking Dovizioso for fourth a lap later.
Edwards said he had a difficult time adapting to the dry after Saturday’s two wet sessions. In the beginning of the race, he said it was “just not working.” He was watching the others pull away while he was struggling to do lap times that had come easily during Friday’s dry practice. Then he began to understand the problem and moved forward.
“Once I figured that out the lap times started coming,” he said.
Dovizioso finished fifth in front of Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard rode cautiously with his injuries, but gained strength and speed as the race progressed. He passed Hayden on the 26th of 30 laps. Hayden was making his debut on the Honda RC212V with the pneumatic valve engine. He'd started well, running fourth for the first four laps, and taking the spot again for laps 12 through 15, but then dropped behind.
Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen was next, by himself, with San Carlos Honda Gresini’s Shinya Nakano a distant ninth.
Australian Anthony West was alone in tenth and the lone Kawasaki finisher after teammate John Hopkins went out with a mechanical problem.
Alice Team Ducati’s Toni Elias was next, getting the better of LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet.
Sylvain Guintoli put the second Alice Ducati into 13th, one better than the late charging Ben Spies in his MotoGP debut.
Spies constantly improved his time throughout the race, comfortably learning how to slide both tires, and turning his fastest lap in the final ten laps of the race. That speed got him to within .860 secs. of Guintoli at the finish.
“It was good. It was tough,” Spies said, adding that he couldn’t get into a rhythm at the beginning of the race because he wasn’t used to the tires. In the later stages, “we were definitely reeling in the next five guys and I almost caught Guintoli. I needed a few more laps. I wish we could race tomorrow because. I think we could finish top ten.”
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati)
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)
6. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
7. Nicky Hayden (Honda)
8. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)
9. Shinya Nakano (Honda)
10 Anthony West (Kawasaki)
11. Toni Elias (Ducati)
12. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki)
13. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
14. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
15. Alex de Angelis (Honda)
16. Marco Melandri (Ducati)
17. James Toseland (Yamaha)