Casey Stoner started the 2008 MotoGP championship season as the title favourite, coming off his 2007 championship, and starting the season with a victory in Qatar. It was all coming apart, though, but the Australian put paid to any doubts about...
Casey Stoner started the 2008 MotoGP championship season as the title favourite, coming off his 2007 championship, and starting the season with a victory in Qatar. It was all coming apart, though, but the Australian put paid to any doubts about his form today, taking a convincing victory at the British GP in Donington.
"This weekend, we have been fast right from the first practice session, and we have been competitive in both dry and wet conditions," said Stoner. "It is a great feeling to be back on the top step of the podium. I have to thank the mechanics because they have been working hard to solve the problems we have been having, and I hope this is something that will be equally beneficial for the future races. Thanks also to Bridgestone, we were able to set fast and consistent lap times all weekend, and also be very strong with the wet tyres."
Having taken the pole by six tenths of a second from archrival Valentino Rossi, Stoner convincingly rode his Ducati off into the distance in the race. At the finish, Rossi was 5.789 seconds adrift, or nearly two tenths of a second per lap.
Rossi, who had started his Yamaha second, had his hands full early on defending his position against the approaches of Andrea Dovizioso, riding a JiR Team Scot Honda. Dovizioso, who had started on the outside of the front row, made a lightning start to attach himself to Rossi's rear wheel on the first lap.
Behind them, Dani Pedrosa recovered from his mid-pack starting position, moving to fifth on the first lap. He then picked off his works Honda teammate Nicky Hayden on the fourth lap, and then Dovizioso another four laps later.
Pedrosa attacked Rossi and succeeded in passing him near the halfway mark, only for Rossi to retake second from him. In the closing laps, Rossi pulled away as Pedrosa lost time through some minor mistakes. Still, third place was much better than his teammate Nicky Hayden's seventh -- prompting Pedrosa to think carefully about switching to Honda's new pneumatic-valve engine, which Hayden was using today.
Colin Edwards took a solid fourth place for the Tech 3 Yamaha satellite team, just ahead of Dovizioso, who had to settle for fourth after winning the race in the 250cc class last year, and Jorge Lorenzo on the second works Yamaha.
Chris Vermeulen finished eighth, and three seconds behind Hayden, on the top Suzuki; Ben Spies, who was substituting for the injure Loris Capirossi finished 14th in his MotoGP debut, a creditable result considering the minimal seat time he was able to have prior to the race.
Stoner moves to 117 points in the title chase, past Lorenzo, but still 45 points adrift of Rossi's total, and 34 behind Pedrosa. But there are still 10 of the 18 races remaining -- next week's TT Assen will mark the halfway point of the season -- and the championship is still very much open for grabs.