Casey Stoner was overjoyed after storming to his fourth successive home win at Phillip Island with a commanding performance in his final Ducati appearance. The red-hot favorite to continue his golden run at the Australian Grand Prix, Stoner didn’t disappoint the crowd of over 41,000 windswept fans as he dominated the 27-lap race. The 25-year-old was rarely troubled, and his third win in the last four races more than made up for the crushing disappointment in Malaysia the previous week.
“I’m very happy with this weekend,” said Stoner. “I was a little bit disappointed after the last race in Malaysia. We felt that we definitely had the pace to fight for a win there and I mucked it up on the first lap. So that was a bit disappointing. But these last four races have been fantastic for me to be so competitive again. It’s been very nice for me to be able to come back to form and actually give these guys a run for their money in these last races. It’s the best way I can show the world that I’ve never stopped trying all season. We just didn’t have the right set-up working over a big part of the season and I wasn’t able to fight Jorge (Lorenzo) or Dani (Pedrosa) for the championship. But I think the way Jorge rode this season he was going to be champion no matter what.”
Stoner’s 23rd premier class win boosted his slim hopes of taking second-place in the overall rankings from injured Repsol Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard missed the race, having been unable to ignore the pain coming from the badly broken left collarbone he injured in Japan. Stoner is now 23-points adrift with two races left, and he added: “I’m surprised Dani didn’t try to ride. It didn’t look too bad out there for him and I think with a little bit more time on the bike he would have got more comfortable. Second-place isn’t over for sure, but third-place is the one we’ve been fighting for quite a while this season. We’re going to keep fighting for that.”
Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo admitted they had little chance of ending Casey Stoner’s domination of his home race in Phillip Island on Sunday. Stoner was in majestic form throughout the weekend, the Aussie following up his
25th career pole position with a resounding 23rd MotoGP victory. Meanwhile, new world champion, Lorenzo, was a distant second.
“I just tried my best and I rode the best I could,” said Lorenzo. “In some laps it seemed the gap was getting closer but not by much. Then when I thought I was getting closer, the next lap Casey would pull some more tenths. In the middle of the race I thought it was better not to take any big risks and just finish second and be happy with this position. He was very fast from the start. I think I was 1.5s down after the first lap and when I saw that I knew I had little hope. The day was Casey’s.”
Italian Valentino Rossi was also never in the hunt and had less of a chance giving Stoner a hard time than Lorenzo, having started way down in eighth. He produced another wonderful exhibition in overtaking, however, the 31-year-old clinching a third straight rostrum with a clinical pass on 2011 factory Ducati teammate, Nicky Hayden, at Turn 4 on the final lap.
“At the end Nicky was strong and in some places also a little bit faster than me,” said Rossi. “But when you start from the third row and arrive on the podium it is a good result and I enjoyed the race. I think here the Ducati is a little bit faster than the Yamaha. We discovered this also in the past, especially last year when Casey and I went 100 percent for the race and he beat me at the end.”
Meanwhile, a steering damper issue put a huge dent in Andrea Dovizioso’s quest to beat Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi to third-place in the 2010 MotoGP standings. The Repsol Honda rider was an early retirement in Phillip Island when he encountered a problem with the steering damper on the second lap.
“In the first two laps I felt the steering was stiff and on Lap 3 this caused me to lose a lot of positions,” said Dovizioso. “I could control the bike but, although I completed another lap, it was too risky to keep riding and I had to come into the pits. There was a problem at the steering damper mounting – it had moved into an incorrect position, so now we will investigate the causes.”
Ben Spies secured the coveted Rookie of the Year crown in Sunday’s Australian MotoGP race. The Texan though admitted he’d not been overly concerned with claiming the honor, his fifth-place in Phillip Island also ensuring he will finish top non-factory rider in this year’s premier class series. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider held third until Lap 8
Ben Spies (#11) and Marco Simoncelli (#58) had a tussel which the American won for his 11th top-six finish of 2010.
when he lost three places as a result of a mistake in the braking zone for Turn 1. Spies was then embroiled in a close tussle with San Carlo Gresini Honda rider, Marco Simoncelli. Confident he would be stronger on worn tires, Spies pounced on Lap 23 to secure his 11th top-six finish in a splendid first season.
“I hate to burst everybody’s bubble but the rookie thing is not something I really set out to do,” said Spies. “If I was second I wouldn’t have been upset because everybody was riding well. I’m focused on my own deal and worried about everybody finishing in front of me, and not who has been finishing behind me. It’s an achievement but not something I’ll go and have a beer for. I’m just happy to be fighting and we had a good race.”
Valentino Rossi confirmed in Phillip Island that he will make his hugely anticipated Ducati debut in Valencia next month. Rossi reported that Yamaha boss, Masao Furusawa, had given him permission to test on November 9th and 10th following a conversation last night. Rossi had been sweating for weeks on whether Yamaha would give him an early release from his contract to test in Valencia. He had piled pressure on Yamaha management by constantly referring to his achievements for the Japanese factory, including winning four MotoGP world titles in 2004, ‘05, ’08 and ’09. The longer Yamaha delayed a decision, the more it seemed Rossi would be made to wait for his Ducati debut until a three-day session at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia during early February. But less than 24 hours before the Italian finished third in the Australian Grand Prix, Furusawa said Yamaha had agreed to grant him permission to test. When Rossi moved from Honda to Yamaha at the end of 2003, HRC refused to release him. Even Ducati had began to fear that Yamaha would not release Rossi from his contract, with Bologna factory boss, Vittoriano Guareschi, saying that he thought the chances of the 31-year-old being released were slim.
After qualifying on Saturday Dani Pedrosa withdrew from the race, saying his injuries proved too painful.
Dani Pedrosa withdrew from the Australian MotoGP race at Phillip Island immediately after qualifying on Saturday. The Spaniard could only qualify in a lowly 15th position, his best lap of 1.33.384 a massive 3.227s off the pace of factory Ducati rider, Casey Stoner.
The 25-year-old, who suffered multiple fractures in his left collarbone when he crashed heavily during practice for the recent Twin Ring Motegi race in Japan, said it was too risky to continue. And the triple world champion said his physical condition was so weak that he couldn’t contemplate finishing the 27-lap race.
“I couldn’t hold the handlebars properly,” Pedrosa said. “Maybe it is the time being back only two weeks after the crash. Or it could be the track and the wind conditions. I couldn’t see myself safely doing 27 laps, so to risk a crash in this condition for just two or three points has no meaning for me. I prefer to rest and get back to Estoril in better shape and have more chance of controlling my bike and going faster. Lapping three seconds off the pace in a race doesn’t have much sense. It’s a shame but at least I came here. It’s a long way from home but at least I can go back and start to rehabilitate with some more information. I would like to race and it was not an easy decision. But it made more sense to stop than risking a crash.”
Pedrosa’s slender title hopes were wrecked in Japan when a throttle malfunction resulted with him crashing and missing the Japanese and Malaysian races.
Loris Capirossi is facing a battle to be fit for the next round of the MotoGP world championship in Estoril later this month. The Italian veteran was forced to miss Sunday’s Phillip Island race in Australia after he suffered a serious groin muscle injury following a qualifying crash. Capirossi was building up speed on his out-lap when he lost control of his factory Suzuki GSV-R machine at the Hayshed. The 37-year-old initially appeared fine and intended to contest the 27-lap Australian Grand Prix when he was diagnosed with the muscle problem. The triple world champion immediately
Following difficult weather conditions at Phillip Island, Rossi has become a major advocate for scheduling the Australian GP earlier in the season to avoid cold temperatures.
returned to Melbourne to catch a flight back to Europe to begin rehabilitation ahead of a planned comeback in Portugal.
Capirossi, who has signed a two-year deal with the Pramac Ducati squad, said: “I am so disappointed that I have had to withdraw from the race, I did not want to, but the doctors said that the strain would have made it difficult for me to hang on to the bike and control it for the whole race, so they had to declare me unfit. It has been quite a miserable three races for me and now I need to get back home and make sure I am as fit as possible for the last two races. I still have a lot to do this season and I want to end the year as competitive as possible.”
Valentino Rossi renewed calls for the Australian MotoGP race to be moved to earlier in the season, the Italian concerned that cold and wet conditions at the traditional October date make it too dangerous. Rossi loves the spectacular Phillip Island track and has only finished off the podium once in his career at the circuit. But Rossi has been a vocal opponent of the October date for several years, with the Phillip Island dominated by cold and unpredictable weather. Today was no exception, with practice delayed by two hours after the circuit was battered by strong winds and heavy rain. Air and track temperature barely hit 10 degrees, and the nine-times world champion said that the weather made it borderline whether the MotoGP race could go ahead.
Rossi, who clinched a famous win from 11th last weekend at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, said: “It is very difficult because the conditions mean we are very close to the limit. The rain is okay but the main problem is the temperature. If it is this temperature, maybe it is better that we have rain because with dry tires I don’t know how we can manage this. It will be very dangerous for the race. If it is dry we need a minimum of 16 or 18 degrees for the tires.”
Winner of the Australian GP for the past four years, Stoner agrees the race should be earlier in the season but is hesitant to say it would solve the problem.
An early slot in the MotoGP calendar has always proven difficult for Phillip Island. The World Superbike race has a traditional February slot, meaning conditions are near perfect at the end of the Australian summer. And the Australian Grand Prix Corporation also promotes the Formula One race at Albert Park, which is always staged in March. The Fiat Yamaha rider said he was going to raise the issue of the Phillip Island date in tonight’s Safety Commission meeting.
“It is three or four years that we want Phillip Island at the beginning of the season,” said Rossi. “But they say the problem is Formula One. From our side we have pushed hard every year. But we need a very bad situation like today to maybe push even harder.”
Home favourite, Casey Stoner, said the problem with the weather at Phillip Island was it’s always difficult to predict.
“We’ve all discussed that in the Safety Commission of putting this race earlier in the season,” Stoner said. “The weather’s normally pretty good when World Superbike is here. It can still throw down some showers. Last week in Melbourne it was 30-odd degrees and we come here and it’s like this. We could come here one year and it would be absolutely roasting. It seems quite consistent that we get some bad weather. It would be nice if we can put it in a time of year when we’d get some more consistent weather.”
Lorenzo said he too was in favor of the Phillip Island race being moved to an earlier date to catch the more favorable conditions at the back end of the Australian summer.
“Yes, without any doubt they need to look at this,” said Lorenzo. “Nobody likes the cold, so please change the date of the race.”
American Nicky Hayden was quick to defend Lorenzo’s title achievement, saying: “He’s not really made any mistakes in practice or anything so nobody can knock him at all.”
Off the track Mika Kallio has quit the Pramac Ducati squad, paving the way for Carlos Checa to make a shock return to MotoGP later this month. Finn Kallio confirmed his withdrawal from the forthcoming Estoril and Valencia races so he can undergo surgery on a long-standing shoulder problem. Experienced Spaniard Checa will ride Kallio’s Ducati GP10 machine at the final two races after he completed a successful test in Mugello last week. Kallio, who is close to clinching a Moto2 ride for 2011, said: “It is since Japan’s race that the pain in my left shoulder, injured at Le Mans, has become too intense. I immediately talked to the team who understood my situation and agreed that I would try to race in Malaysia and Australia, and then decide to continue or not in the last two races. Unfortunately, despite the good race today, the pain didn’t allow me to perform in the best way, so together with the team we decided to conclude our partnership today. It has been a hard choice for me, but in this way I’ll be able to find the best physical condition and think about my future.”
American Nicky Hayden believes Jorge Lorenzo thoroughly deserved his first MotoGP world title success in 2010. The Spaniard has had to contend with accusations that his title success is a hollow victory because of injuries to Fiat Yamaha teammate, Valentino Rossi, and compatriot Dani Pedrosa. Rossi missed four races with a broken right leg at the crucial mid-season phase while the best spell of Pedrosa’s premier class career was abruptly ended in Japan earlier this month when he broke his left collarbone. Lorenzo won the title with a third-place in Sepang last weekend, and Hayden said his consistency had made him a deserving champion.
“He’s been on the podium a lot and on the front row a lot and that’s a champion season,” said Hayden. “. The level this year has been very high and he’s been there every week in every condition and just solid. You can say ifs and buts all day long with Rossi’s injury, but the bottom line is at the end of 18 races, it’s who has got the most points. You could say with Rossi racing things would be a little different, but Lorenzo’s the champion and he’s a deserving champion, no doubt about that.”