SEASON ENDS WITH CONTRASTING FORTUNES FOR STONER AND HAYDEN AT VALENCIA
The Ducati Marlboro Team concluded its 2009 MotoGP World Championship with contrasting fortunes for its two riders, as Nicky Hayden ended the season on a high with a hard-fought fifth place but Casey Stoner was left empty handed following a crash on the warm-up lap. Stoner came into the race with back-to-back wins and was a strong contender to make it a hat-trick following a dominant performance in practice. However, the grid strategy used by the team for the last two years proved to have a weak point today and the Australian's tyres were not up to the right temperature, leading him to crash.
Hayden has made constant progress over the course of the weekend to mirror the positive trend of his season following a difficult start. The American started from sixth on the grid and improved by one placing in the race to claim fifth for the second successive race, despite dropping back to seventh on the opening lap. Confidence is now high in both camps for a much better season in 2010, preparations for which start in a three-day test that gets underway tomorrow here at Valencia.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) (DNF; 4th in the championship on 220 points)
"Obviously this is a frustrating and disappointing way to finish the season. There have been plenty of highs and lows throughout the year and we have ended on a low, but with another lesson learnt for next season. We have had this strategy for two years and not had a problem until today so I guess it is better it happened here than in the first race of next season in Qatar! The important thing is that after back-to-back wins in Australia and Malaysia we have shown our pace here at Valencia and we know we have everything in place to be competitive next season if we do the job right over the winter. Now I am looking forward to working on the bike over the next three days and then spending a couple of months building up my physical fitness, which I haven't been able to dedicate myself 100% to for such a long time. We know it will be hard next year but we are confident that we can be back and fighting again. I want to give my personal thanks to everybody in the team -- to Filippo and everybody at Ducati Corse for giving me a bike that was competitive even when I wasn't and for working to make sure it was firing on all cylinders when I came back. I also want to thank Livio Suppo, who is leaving the team, for all the support he has given me since I joined Ducati and especially during the difficult moments this season."
NICKY HAYDEN -- (Ducati Marlboro Team) (5th in the race; 13th in the championship on 104 points)
"I thought it might be possible to do a little better than that today but I didn't get the best start. The clutch was slipping a little bit down the first couple of straightaways and I lost some positions. After that I managed to pull myself up again and from there it was a case of doing my best to try and bridge the gap to Colin (Edwards). The bike was working quite well but every time I closed a tenth or two he had an answer and pulled it back out. Towards the end I had some issues in a couple of left-handers and my pace dropped too much. Anyway, I had an enjoyable race, going back and forth with a few guys at the beginning especially. It's not a spectacular result but we've end the season with two top fives and we know we have a direction to work in over the winter. It hasn't been a great season for me in terms of results but the improvements we have made since the start are huge and I'm excited about the future. We're thirteenth overall, which looks awful on paper, but we are only eleven points off seventh and I had three first-lap incidents that weren't my fault -- just one of those could have made the difference. Next season starts tomorrow and I can't wait to get back to work! There will be some changes in the team and a few guys leaving who I will miss. I want to thank them because even though it's on old saying it really is true that Ducati is like a family. All I can say is good luck to them and I'm looking forward to welcoming the new guys in."
Filippo Preziosi -- Ducati Corse General Director:
"Unfortunately after a virtually perfect weekend Casey was denied the opportunity to finish it with a good race today. We've been using this grid strategy for the past two season, but the only risk is that the tyres are colder than they should be for the "warm-up lap". We obviously need to change this for the future and make sure there is enough temperature in the tyre. It is the first time it has happened in two years but once is already too much so we will look to improve on that. We have some ideas already and we will have something different in place for the first race of next season. Nicky picked up another solid fifth place, ending the season running comfortably within the mid-pack towards the front and that is a positive sign for next year, even though we need to take another step forward. We start testing with him and with Casey tomorrow with three days of testing here at Valencia. Finally a big hug to Livio and good luck for his future".