Despite a clutch problem today Casey Stoner has gone a step closer to the 2008 MotoGP crown
Estoril MotoGP reaction: Clutch problem ends Casey Stoner’s winning streak
16 September 2007 19:25
Casey Stoner revealed a clutch problem cost him the chance to become the youngest rider in history to win four successive MotoGP races, as he had to settle for third in a thrilling Estoril race.
Stoner’s first defeat since the American GP in Laguna Seca at the end of July delayed his world championship celebrations for at least another seven days, with Valentino Rossi’s stunning victory reducing the Australian’s series lead to 76-points.
Stoner certainly threatened to carry on his golden run of form in the early stages as he led for the opening seven laps.
But unlike in Laguna Seca, Brno and Misano, he couldn’t make a decisive break with Dani Pedrosa and Rossi keeping in contention because of the improved performance of their Michelin tyres.
The first hint of trouble for Stoner came on lap seven when Pedrosa swept by on lap seven, and he was only able to fend off Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha for another two laps.
It looked like he might even slip out of the podium places with Nicky Hayden mounting a spirited charge before he ran into grip issues that saw the American have to settle for a distant and lonely fourth.
Stoner himself threatened to make it a three-way dice for the victory in the closing stages, but he simply ran out of time as the clutch problems had severely disrupted his pace.
Stoner though still only needs to finish one place in front of Rossi in next weekend’s Japanese GP in the Twin Ring Motegi to claim his first world title.
And the odds are stacked in his favour with Bridgestone winning on home soil in Motegi for the last three years.
“We had a lot higher expectations for today, “said Stoner. “At least I thought we could be there on the last lap battling.
“But five laps into the race I had a clutch problem and it kept hitting neutral. I couldn’t brake as late as those guys without running wide and it took me a few laps to get used to this.
“We have done a great job all weekend. We have always been at the front in the sessions and been confident with our race set-up.
“Unfortunately the clutch problem hit us. It was disengaging itself and running into the corner free-wheeling like I was in neutral.
“I ran wide a lot of times in the early laps trying to stay with them but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get close enough.
“They had a small advantage and towards the end of the race I started to get more comfortable and the tyres started to get a little bit better.
“But it was a little bit too late and I couldn’t get right on to the back of them, “added Stoner.