French GP: Ducati race report

TOUGH DAY AT LE MANS FOR DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM An otherwise positive weekend for Casey Stoner at Le Mans ended on a negative note today as his unbroken run of 22 points-scoring finishes came to an end. The Australian had produced another top ...

TOUGH DAY AT LE MANS FOR DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM

An otherwise positive weekend for Casey Stoner at Le Mans ended on a negative note today as his unbroken run of 22 points-scoring finishes came to an end.

The Australian had produced another top performance in the race as he was forced to ride around an unfortunate lack of grip from one side of his front tyre - possibly due to the slight change in track conditions caused by a wet morning warm-up - on the back of another impressive display during practice.

Stoner battled through his problems to stay in the podium fight but on the 21st lap the engine of his Ducati also ran into difficulty and forced him to return to the pits. With the white flags having been shown to indicate a wet race, Stoner was able to take his second bike and return to the race on rain tyres - eventually crossing the line in 16th place, missing the points for the first time with Ducati.

After losing thirty seconds at the start of the race when his bike stalled on the grid, Marco Melandri also ended the race on rain tyres after gambling on an early change. Unfortunately for Marco the light rainfall never turned into a downpour, although he did manage to take a point in 15th.

MARCO MELANDRI - (Ducati Marlboro Team) 15th

"My race was doomed from the start because unfortunately the bike was cutting out on the sighting lap and I thought it was just a temporary thing. Then when I let the clutch out at the start it stalled completely and I lost some vital seconds. Once I got going I got my rhythm together and when I saw it was raining I decided to come in and hope that the gamble of an early change would pay off with some more rain. It's a shame because things went well in the warm-up when the bike was more balanced and more predictable and I think I was capable of a good race. Now we have a couple of days to test and I'm sure we can make a real step forward before Mugello, a circuit I love."

CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 16th

"I got a decent start to the race today but unfortunately I just didn't have any feeling for the right hand side of the front tyre. I was losing a lot of grip at maximum lean and kept closing the front so I lost a lot of confidence. I couldn't brake as late as I had been doing during practice so I had to ride around it and managed to get to the point where it was only when the tyre was right on the edge, in T4, that I was really losing time. I was there or thereabouts, still in with a shout of a podium position, and it started to rain so I thought that could give us a chance. Unfortunately that was when I started to have a problem with the engine, I couldn't get any drive off the bottom end and couldn't overtake anybody. Then a couple of laps later the engine problem effectively ended the race for us. This weekend has had a lot of positive aspects to it - we've got back up to speed again and found our old feeling with the bike so it's just a case of everything coming together in a race. That's why I'm looking forward to the next one."

LIVIO SUPPO Ducati MotoGP Project leader

"This weekend Casey has been particularly unlucky and I'm sorry for him because he has ridden well and shown the speed and consistency of a true World Champion even though this track doesn't suit the characteristics of our bike perfectly. In the race he had a problem with the front tyre that we're looking at together with Bridgestone. It was the same tyre he had put more than race distance on in practice but it only lasted five laps in the race and that could be partly to do with the way the grip levels changed after the rain in the morning warm-up. He was still fighting for the podium when the engine problem came along and obviously we'll look at that with our engineers. I'm disappointed for Marco too because in the warm-up he showed some real progress and we were looking forward to a fight-back in the race. It clearly wasn't our day today, we haven't had one like that for a long time, but we have to put it behind us and continue to work hard because the season is long and there will be plenty of chances for us to put it right."

-credit: ducati.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Marco Melandri , Casey Stoner