STONER BATTLES TO VALUABLE FOURTH AT MOTEGI, HAYDEN KNOCKED OUT OF THE RACE Casey Stoner took a solid fourth place finish in the Grand Prix of Japan today, adding a precious 13 points to his championship tally despite the data acquisition...
STONER BATTLES TO VALUABLE FOURTH AT MOTEGI, HAYDEN KNOCKED OUT OF THE RACE
Casey Stoner took a solid fourth place finish in the Grand Prix of Japan today, adding a precious 13 points to his championship tally despite the data acquisition showing that he suffered a strong vibration through his front brake throughout the race. With the sun finally shining through after a wet warm-up this morning, the former World Champion once again showed his maturity and knack for riding around problems with an exemplary exhibition of damage limitation. Nicky Hayden's desperately unlucky start to the season continued when he was clumsily knocked out of the race on the opening lap by home rookie Yuki Takahashi. The American suffered another heavy blow to the back injury he suffered in Qatar but luckily he escaped without any further damage.
Starting from the front row, Stoner dropped to sixth on the first lap and then lost another position. However, the Ducati Marlboro Team riderAustralian showed his trademark determination with an inspired fightback that took him back past Melandri two laps later, before immediately picking off Chris Vermeulen and then hunting down and despatching of Andrea Dovizioso two laps from the end. Stoner is now third in the championship standings after two rounds, three points behind today's race winner Jorge Lorenzo.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 4th
"We have had the same issues as everybody else, I suppose, in that we haven't had time to set the bike up but all in all I think we were capable of at least matching the lap times of the front guys -- we just lost too much time at the start. On the warm-up lap I felt I a lot of chatter from the front brakes, they weren't smooth and I wasn't confident over the first five or six laps. I really didn't know what to do, I wasn't able to brake where I wanted to and I wasn't confident. Maybe I could have gone faster but I don't know how safe that would have been. Anyway, I lost a lot of positions at the beginning of the race and I spent too much time battling to get past. When I got closer to the front it was a bit too late, unfortunately. I tried to stay as consistent as I could and when I got closer to Andrea I rode a bit harder because I saw it was possible to pass him. So the race was not completely lost, we didn't lose that many points and this is a much better start to the season than last year, so we can definitely feel positive going into the next one."
NICKY HAYDEN -- (Ducati Marlboro Team) DNF
"That was exactly what we didn't need. I got a decent start and I think I was up a couple of positions but just going down into the hairpin, which is a slow hard-braking corner, I was on my line and Takahashi just took me down. There was no warning - I didn't even hear anything! I don't want to say much about that, I don't want to look like a cry-baby but, you know, it was the first lap... luckily I feel okay. I actually landed in the same place on my back as the crash in Qatar and my leathers and helmet have got exactly the same marks. It's a shame because this weekend I honestly felt we were making some progress. I felt we had better communication going on and we worked more comfortably from the first day. I know we were never looking at a great result but I felt I could have been competitive today. Anyway, we have to move forward and to look to the next race."
LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP PROJECT DIRECTOR
"It has been a strange weekend and the weather definitely hasn't helped but it has been the same for everybody. Casey produced a great performance, showing once again his ability to ride around problems and bringing home some important points. There are no words to describe how unlucky Nicky has been here... he was knocked to the ground in the fourth corner... Unfortunately these things happen in racing and the most important thing is that he wasn't injured."