Elias Takes Strong Fourth in Front of Home Crowd Honda Gresini's Toni Elias and Ducati's Casey Stoner were denied podium results in today's Spanish Grand Prix but strong, consistent performances by both riders throughout the 27-lap race in Jerez...
Elias Takes Strong Fourth in Front of Home Crowd
Honda Gresini's Toni Elias and Ducati's Casey Stoner were denied podium results in today's Spanish Grand Prix but strong, consistent performances by both riders throughout the 27-lap race in Jerez were rewarded with encouraging fourth and fifth placed results respectively.
With ten laps of the race remaining Elias was seven seconds adrift of race leader and ultimate winner Valentino Rossi and Stoner was ten seconds behind, but their soft compound rear Bridgestone tyres maintained optimum performance right up to the chequered flag and enabled them to greatly reduce the deficit to just over one second. Stoner now lies second in the riders' table with 36 points, equal with Dani Pedrosa who finished runner-up to Rossi today, the Italian's win taking him to the head of the championship.
Suzuki's John Hopkins was in the hunt for a strong podium challenge until a fall on lap 17 relegated him to the back of the field. The competitiveness of the Suzuki-Bridgestone package was highlighted with Hopkins setting the second fastest lap of the entire GP, accompanied only by Rossi under the 1m41s mark.
Marco Melandri was forced to settle for eighth place having been an early pace setter. His eight points keep him fifth in the riders' classification. Chris Vermeulen added a second top ten result to his season tally with ninth place on his Suzuki today, keeping him in seventh place in the championship just ahead of Elias, Hopkins and Pramac d'Antin's Alex Barros, whose 11th position in Jerez places him tenth in the overall riders' table.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport
"Naturally, we are a little disappointed that our riders could not finish today's race on the podium, but I am still pleased with the overall competitiveness of our tyres this weekend. Based on the results from the free practice sessions and the expected arrival of cooler weather in Jerez this afternoon, most of our riders opted to run with a soft specification rear tyre. The cooler track conditions enabled them to extract the full performance from this tyre, together with their chosen 16.5'' front, to post quick times over the full race distance. Unfortunately, starting from the second and third rows of the grid was more of a disadvantage than usual because we have seen such a competitive field this weekend, which made progressing up the order tricky. The fact that Toni and Casey were able to lap in the high 1m41s in the closing stages, around half a second quicker than some of our rivals, and make up so many places in the process demonstrates that we had the tyres to achieve more this afternoon. John and the Suzuki team also showed great performance in race trim, setting the second quickest lap of the race. Generally, there are many positive aspects to take away from these opening two races of the season with Casey's excellent win in Qatar and increased competitiveness against our rivals here in Jerez. However, we have some tough tracks coming up with Turkey and China, so we have plenty of work to do. Weather permitting, our preparations for these races will begin with all five of our teams in Jerez tomorrow."
Toni Elias - Honda Gresini - 4th place (+4.351s from race winner)
"I am very happy with fourth place today and to be the top Bridgestone rider in front of my home fans. I struggled a bit at the start of the race because I could not get the tyres up to temperature quickly, but it was possible to keep ninth place in the initial laps. After that I was able to maintain a constant and competitive rhythm for the duration of the race. When the rivals in front of us started to drop their pace a bit, the rhythm from the Bridgestone tyres helped me make my way through the field and recover some ground. Unfortunately there was already too much of a gap to Colin for that final podium place. We have worked a lot this weekend together with Bridgestone and I am quite proud of our achievements together. It is my 24th birthday tomorrow and this result is not a bad early present."