Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner scored a hard-fought third-place finish in today's thrilling Portuguese Grand Prix. Team-mate Loris Capirossi completed a difficult weekend in ninth position. The result gives Stoner a 76 point lead in the World Championship with four races to go, keeps Ducati well ahead in the constructors' points chase and maintains the Ducati Marlboro Team's advantage in the teams' championship.
As ever, Stoner got the maximum out of his machinery to score a fourth consecutive podium finish and his 11th top-three result from the first 14 races of 2007. The awesome Australian led the first five laps today but then had some trouble with his GP7's clutch. Stoner slipped to third place but nevertheless kept his cool, using his talent to ride around the problem and then close the gap on leaders Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa during the final stages. He finished just 1.477 seconds down on winner Rossi. Capirossi struggled with set-up but had a busy race, fighting for a top-ten finish with several rivals.
The MotoGP paddock now jets east for next Sunday's Japanese GP, the first of three 'flyway' races which is followed by the Australian and Malaysian GPs.
CASEY STONER, 3rd place, World hampionship leader on 287 points
"I'm happy with the result, but we did have higher expectations going into this race, at least to be there on the last lap, battling for the win. We thought we had a pretty good set-up, but unfortunately I started having a problem with the clutch about five laps into the race. There was no engine braking so I couldn't try and brake as late as the other guys without running wide into the turns. It was very difficult to manage the situation and it took me quite a few laps to learn to ride around the problem. Towards the end I started to have quite a good rhythm again, I was getting faster and started to close them down. I felt like I had enough stamina to chase them but I just didn't have the feeling with the bike and I didn't have enough laps. I needed a few more tenths to get on to the back of them but I wasn't to be, we lost too much time at the beginning. Anyway, I gave my all and the team has done another fantastic job all weekend. We've been fast, we had a little problem today, but I think we can come back again next weekend."
LORIS CAPIROSSI, 9th place, 8th in World Championship on 105 points
"We finished another race but not how I'd like. We had one last go at setting up the bike in morning warm-up but we didn't really succeed. I found the bike difficult to ride today, so it was just a case of damage limitation. I think I showed that I never give up, even when the situation is difficult and even when I'm racing for ninth place. I will keep trying 100 per cent until the end of the season. We will see if we can go better at the next races - I won the last two Japanese GPs and I was quite competitive during winter tests in Australia and Malaysia."
LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP project director
"I'm very sorry for the little clutch problem that prevented Casey from fighting for victory, because he has been fast all weekend and deserved to be up front. Anyway, his talent allowed him to ride around the problem and after a few laps he was very fast again, so this is another race in which he has proven he's a real champion. I'm happy that we saw a big battle today, I'm just sorry that Casey wasn't able to be there. Loris went a little better today. He is still fighting with the bike and we are doing everything we can to help him. He won the last two races at Motegi, so hopefully that will help him to be more competitive next weekend."