SENSATIONAL STONER SEALS HAT-TRICK OF ISLAND VICTORIES, HAYDEN KNOCKED OUT OF THE RACE Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner took his third victory in as many seasons at Phillip Island today, rubber-stamping his return to form and fitness...
SENSATIONAL STONER SEALS HAT-TRICK OF ISLAND VICTORIES, HAYDEN KNOCKED OUT OF THE RACE
Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner took his third victory in as many seasons at Phillip Island today, rubber-stamping his return to form and fitness with a dominant display from pole position. After briefly conceding the lead to Dani Pedrosa in the first turn, Stoner muscled his way past the Spaniard on the opening lap and never looked back, holding off the strong challenge of Valentino Rossi in the second half of the race to put his Desmosedici GP9 on the top step of the podium for the first time since the Italian Grand Prix in June.
Stoner's victory, in front of 50,094 delighted home fans, also lifted him back up to third in the championship standings with two rounds remaining. The flip side of the coin today was for the unfortunate Nicky Hayden, who for the third time this season had his race ruined when another rider collided with him in the first lap. The American was forced off track after an impact with Jorge Lorenzo, but he did a remarkable job to stay upright across the wet grass and return to the track to eventually pick up a point in 15th place.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) (1st)
"I'd forgotten how good that winning feeling is and of all my victories this is perhaps the most special. I can honestly say that from a physical perspective I can't ever remember feeling this strong after a race, which shows that the work we have done and the time we took out has been spot on. I got a good start and was able to put together the lap times to keep us at the front but quite honestly I felt I could have gone even faster if we'd have been able to find a little more rear traction over the course of the weekend. Anyway, I can't complain because the work the guys have done on the bike during the season has been phenomenal, from the swingarm to the new fairing... they just haven't stopped trying to make it better even when I wasn't around. Now my aim is to help them as much as I can over the last two races and give Filippo (Preziosi) as much useful data as I can so that he can work his magic and improve the bike even more for next year."
NICKY HAYDEN -- (Ducati Marlboro Team) (15th)
"I got probably the best start I have had all season but unfortunately it proved to be my downfall! I'm not sure what happened to Jorge -- I saw he got a bad start as I passed him, then the next thing I know I felt a really hard impact. It was so hard it tore both our bikes up and obviously he couldn't keep his upright. Thankfully I did and I got back on track but the thing was so damaged I was just riding around. I considered coming in to conserve the engine but there was always the chance it might rain and give us the opportunity to swap bikes so we stayed out there and tried to stay out of harm's way. I'm disappointed because I felt we had a chance to do something here and apart from anything I was excited to race here because it's always so much fun. Anyway, I can't blame Jorge because he is fighting for the championship, he obviously didn't mean it and I know it is not his style. The good thing is that I didn't get hurt, which could have easily happened in that corner, and now we go to Malaysia and try to get back in the thick end of the points."
Livio Suppo -- MotoGP Project Director
"This is a really special day. It is Casey's third victory in a row here at Phillip Island but this time it has an extra flavour. Casey deserved it -- he has gone through a difficult period but he has shown enormous character and determination to come back after two months out and pick up a podium at Estoril and then a win like this today. I also have to congratulate Valentino because with the championship almost wrapped up after Jorge's crash he produced a great race. They finished 22 seconds ahead of third place with an incredible pace, although Casey had that little bit extra today. We're also delighted to see his health improving so much. Nicky has had such an unlucky season. He got a fantastic start but this is the third time this season that he has been involved in an incident that wasn't his fault. It's a shame because without them he would no doubt be in the top ten in the championship. He deserves at least that because the improvements in the bike are also down to him. It is a disappointing end to the weekend for Nicky but we know he has the character to be back fighting in the next two rounds."