Stoner scores hat-trick, Hopkins takes maiden podium in China Ducati rider Casey Stoner extended his lead at the top of the championship table with an emphatic victory on Bridgestone tyres in China this afternoon leading home second-placed ...
Stoner scores hat-trick, Hopkins takes maiden podium in China
Ducati rider Casey Stoner extended his lead at the top of the championship table with an emphatic victory on Bridgestone tyres in China this afternoon leading home second-placed Valentino Rossi by over three seconds. It was Stoner's third win in four races this season and takes his combined points tally to 86 heading into the frenetic European season.
Suzuki's John Hopkins translated his impressive free practice performances into third position by the end of the 22-lap race to claim his maiden MotoGP podium and Suzuki's first of the season. Hopkins has been a regular pace-setter on his 800cc Suzuki this weekend and completed the 116km race distance seven seconds quicker than he did on the 990cc machine last year, highlighting the improvements made by Suzuki and Bridgestone over the last twelve months.
Strong performances from Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri, Ducati's Loris Capirossi, Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet and Pramac d'Antin's Alex Hofmann ensured that Bridgestone-shod riders swept positions five to nine in this afternoon's race with each of Bridgestone's five teams able to demonstrate competitive pace over the complete race distance. Alex Barros was able to extricate his Ducati from a first lap collision with fellow Bridgestone user Toni Elias to eventually regain 14th place, setting a string of competitive lap times which were on par with the fourth and fifth-placed riders. Barros set the fourth quickest lap of the entire GP, a 2m00.383s, on his 17th lap.
Tomoyuki Izumisawa, Bridgestone Corporation, responsible for motorsports, in attendance at today's GP said:
"Congratulations to the entire Ducati team for another sensational victory. They have proven themselves in these first races of the season to be serious championship contenders this year and the recent results are a real testament to their technical package and teamwork. We have worked very closely with the Suzuki team since 2004 and Bridgestone also takes great pleasure in seeing John Hopkins score his debut podium position today. All five of our teams have enjoyed top ten results and our thanks and compliments go to each of them for a very competitive weekend."
Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Motorsport - Director of Motorsport Tyre Development
"We are immensely pleased that our tyres have helped Casey Stoner and Ducati to take their third victory in just four races. With John Hopkins and Suzuki in third place and a further five riders in the top ten, we have been able to display a similar level of competitiveness and durability to what we saw in Turkey two weeks ago. The race pace was significantly faster than we saw in free practice with Casey and Valentino even breaking the 2m mark on a couple of laps, so the bike and tyres would have been put under greater demands. The fact that our tyres were able to match the riders' increased pace in the closing stages of the race was very pleasing. Each of the three victories in Qatar, Turkey and now China have been at tracks where we have not previously been victorious, so we are happy to have made such technical advances compared to last year. However, the season is long and we are working on a race-by-race basis to continue this momentum throughout the busy European season which will soon be upon us."
Casey Stoner - Ducati Corse - Race Winner and Championship Leader
"That was a very nice battle to be in and I could feel Valentino right behind me all the time. We had a few close passes but the Ducati once again showed its top speed down the back straight, so I was able to repass. The lap times were unbelievable and we had a very fast pace throughout the 22 laps. Everything was perfect again and we were able to stay up front to take our third win in four races. The tyres were continuing to improve during the race and the lap times dropped a lot. I'd like to say thanks to Ducati and to Bridgestone for giving me the equipment with which to achieve these fantastic results."