The victory on the Donington Park circuit is just the second win of the year for Stoner. The Ducati Marlboro rider had ten in his championship 2007 season. After winning in Qatar to open 2008, Stoner struggled in the next couple of races. Stoner appears to be back on track as this weekend’s win marked his third consecutive podium finish
“This has been a great weekend for us and it’s brilliant to know that we’re in a position to fight that little bit harder,” says Stoner. “The last three races have gone quite well for us in general but we’ve taken a big step forward with the new electronic system, which worked so well at the Catalunya test and then here.”
Stoner led right from the start and was never really threatened. The win moved Stoner into third place for the season standings. The two riders ahead of him in the standings provided the drama at Donington as Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa dueled for second spot. The two swapped positions throughout the race but in the end, Rossi came out ahead for Fiat Yamaha, extending his season lead over Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa to 11 points.
“I knew that second place was important because of the points so I had to win my fight with Pedrosa in the middle of the race. Luckily we took second and now I have extended my lead by four points, which is very important for our championship,” says Rossi. “We are leading the championship but Stoner showed his potential today so I think that this hard battle between us all is going to continue race by race. I am glad we only have a few days to Assen and I am looking forward to doing better there.”
Making his debut in MotoGP, Ben Spies recorded the eighth fastest lap time during qualifying on a wet track Saturday. On a dry raceday Sunday however, he lost ground to more eperienced MotoGP racers to finish in 14th place, 49.591 seconds behind Stoner. Still, that was good enough to earn the reigning AMA Superbike champion his first two MotoGP points. Racing for Rizla Suzuki as a substitute for the injured Loris Capirossi, Spies performed well considering the challenge of riding a new bike on an unfamiliar track.
“It was a tough race as I was still trying to learn the tires, the bike and the track in the first few laps. The first half of the race felt like garbage to me, but the second half was really good,” says Spies. “I was running times towards the end that would have put us in the top ten so I’m quite pleased with that. I was catching the guys in front and reeling them in lap-by-lap, but I just didn’t have enough laps to get up and past them.
“I was definitely getting more comfortable on the bike and even though the result wasn't what I wanted, the times at the end were really fast and I’m happy with that.”
Capirossi continues to recuperate from a broken hand and may be ready to return for the June 28 Assen race in The Netherlands. With the next AMA Superbike race several weeks away, Spies will be available if Capirossi needs more time to recover.
“Ben did a good job here this weekend and he looked comfortable and quick on the bike towards the end of the race,” says Paul Manning, Rizla Suzuki team manager. “He hasn’t made a mistake all weekend and has improved consistently no matter what has been thrown at him. He has done very well indeed. It’s not yet clear whether Ben will race at Assen to continue his learning curve, but he will be there ready to step in if Loris is not able to ride.”
|1.||Valentino Rossi||Fiat Yamaha||162|
|2.||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||151|
|3.||Casey Stoner||Ducati Marlboro||117|
|4.||Jorge Lorenzo||Fiat Yamaha||104|
|5.||Colin Edwards||Tech 3 Yamaha||82|