With 106 points and two victories each from six races so far this season, the three gladiators that stand together at the top of the MotoGP World Championship stood side by side on the podium at Catalunya today, each having written their own page in another thrilling chapter of motorcycling history. Whilst Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo fought a fantastic battle for victory to the final corner, Casey Stoner had to fight his own battle against illness to secure a priceless third place. The Ducati Marlboro Team rider was so debilitated by stomach cramps that he was barely able to sleep last night and at the halfway stage of the race today he considered something that for him is unthinkable – giving up. However, after a weekend of hard work from Stoner and his crew, which continued until after this morning’s warm-up, the Australian knew that the perfect set-up of his GP9 could help him and he steeled himself for a final push. That he set the fastest lap of the race is testament to the fact that he would otherwise have been involved in that epic fight for victory.
Tenth place for his team-mate Nicky Hayden, added to ninth for Mika Kallio, made it three Ducatis in the top ten today, demonstrating the improving performance of the machine. Hayden had every reason to be satisfied with the result and he is now looking forward to returning to the track tomorrow for the first of two of post-GP tests this season, the second of which will follow the Czech round at Brno in August.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd
“I haven’t felt in great shape all weekend – I wasn’t ill but I wasn’t quite myself. Then last night I couldn’t sleep, I probably got a couple of hours at the most, and after just a couple of laps this morning I was destroyed. I decided to race myself, basically, and bring home as many points as I could manage but my bike was fantastic and that is why I was able to ride it to a really valuable podium. The team did a perfect job after the warm-up and if I wasn’t so ill, I think I could have stayed with Valentino and Jorge until the end, although I’m not saying I could have beaten them. I started to suffer from really strong cramps and I could barely ride – I was falling over the front of the bike in the hard-braking areas and I was struggling to keep my concentration. I thought about stopping but decided to just back off for a while and try to hang on for a top ten. The bike was so good that I was able to keep up a decent pace and hold off Dovizioso. Tonight I’ll try to get plenty of rest and recover my strength for the test tomorrow because this is an important period in the championship and we need to test. After that it’s Assen and I’m already looking forward to it.”
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) 10th
“I was hoping for a little more than this but realistically at the moment it was the best I could manage. I started from near the back but kept passing people and made progress throughout the race. I got close to Kallio and tried my best to pass him but made a couple of mistakes and he beat me. All in all it’s not a spectacular result but it is definitely a step forward. I’ve been close to the front guys all weekend, we’ve worked well and we’ve learnt a lot about the bike. I’m already looking forward to getting back on the bike for the test tomorrow and continuing to work down this path, which we think is the right one.”
LIVIO SUPPO –Ducati MotoGP Project Director
“Casey was outstanding today – he certainly wasn’t in top physical condition but once again he gave it absolutely everything. He set the fastest lap of the race and for as long as he was physically able he was right there with Valentino and Jorge, who have otherwise been one step ahead of us all weekend. The team also did a great job to make some changes after the warm-up and get the bike in the right shape. So today is a third place that actually means more than that, like Jerez. As far as Nicky is concerned we’re starting to reap the fruit of a lot of hard work. It was a much more positive weekend than Mugello, from his sixth fastest time on Friday right through to a top ten finish today. We just need to shave a few tenths more off his lap time and that will be the objective for us in the test tomorrow.”