Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner took his second victory in succession today with a display of absolute dominance in torrential conditions at Sepang, where his team-mate Nicky Hayden picked up a fantastic fifth place. A heavy tropical downpour just moments before the riders were due to take to the track for the penultimate round of the season saw the race delayed by 36 minutes, but once the lights went out Stoner proved once again that he is a master of any condition. After taking the lead on the first lap the Australian opened up an advantage of almost four seconds by the end of the second circulation – increasing it lap by lap to over 17 seconds at one point as he stormed to his fourth victory of the season, becoming the first rider ever to win at Sepang from the second row of the grid.
Nicky Hayden also produced an excellent demonstration of wet weather riding as he guided his Desmosedici GP9 to fifth place from seventh on the grid. The American was involved in a series of breathtaking battles throughout the 22-lap affair, passing Loris Capirossi and Toni Elias with his trademark style and determination and fighting to hold off title contenders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Third place for the Italian eventually sealed the championship with one round remaining at Valencia in two weeks’ time, when Stoner and Hayden will look to be amongst the frontrunners once again.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) (1st)
“I didn’t get a brilliant start but I was happy to be in fourth as we came out of turn two and by the end of the first lap I was clear by a second. I have to be honest, I didn’t expect to be so far ahead so early in the race but when I looked up and saw 3 seconds on my pit board I decided to step the pace up even more and try an escape. I kept pulling out a second a lap and then eventually decided to back it off and not take any risks. This is another fantastic day for us and I want to thank everybody in the team for their effort. We’ve struggled with the bike in the wet this season but everybody has worked so well and the difference today was clear to see. We’re really strong now and I can only see us getting stronger from here, which is great news for next season. I want to congratulate Valentino because to win nine World Championships is an incredible achievement. I’m sure that if we continue to work like this ourselves we can put up a much stronger challenge next time.”
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) (5th)
“We’ll take a top five, that’ll work for us. I was quite excited when it started to rain because I’ve been on the pace with this bike in the wet this year and I felt I could do something special. Unfortunately I struggled a lot on the brakes in the beginning and a lot of guys came past. From there I had a lot of fun passing and fighting with people, trying to close down the gap to the lead group, but I was just missing a little bit to really go with Rossi and Lorenzo and try to fight for the podium. When Vermeulen came I knew he was a rain specialist so I pushed hard to make sure he didn’t see a crack in the door and think he could push it open. I’ve been fourth here five times so I’m only one spot off my mark! After Phillip Island it seems every time we try to get something going we have huge bad luck but I’m thankful I have a team who keep working and never give up – we’re trying to build something here together and we’re making progress. Even this weekend we were consistently up near the top. I have to say congratulations to Casey and Valentino. It wasn’t a terrible day for us either but now we go to Valencia and try to build on it again.”
Livio Suppo – MotoGP Project Director
“That was a really wonderful and unique day, for the way the conditions changed so quickly and the way our team reacted to it, and for the positive result for both of our riders. Casey produced something extraordinary, dominating from the first to the final lap, whilst Nicky battled hard from the start and brought home an important fifth place that shows how well we have worked both at the track and back at the factory throughout the year. It is a season that saw Casey make a great start before going through some difficulties and then coming back in style, whilst Nicky had a tough start himself but he has made constant progress and he is finishing it in a positive way that we hope carries through to next year.”