Casey Stoner extended his MotoGP world championship lead to a massive 60- points with another faultless performance in this afternoon’s Czech Republic GP in Brno.
With closest rival Valentino Rossi languishing down in seventh place, Stoner’s seventh win of the campaign moved him a step closer to succeeding Nicky Hayden as premier class world champion.
Just as he was in Laguna Seca a month ago, Stoner was in imperious form and totally controlled the 22-lap from start to finish in front of a huge crowd of 141,632.
Once he’d grabbed the holeshot from Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, factory Suzuki rider John Hopkins offered minimal resistance before Stoner stretched out his lead to nearly four seconds with five laps remaining. He was 6.5s clear on the last lap before easing off to become the first rider to complete the pole position and victory double in back-to-back MotoGP races since Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi in 2005.
Stoner, who started from pole position for the third successive race, said: “We got an awesome start and I felt from the warm-up everything was going to go quite well. We did a race distance on a tyre this morning and knew they’d last fine. The whole weekend has gone really well for us, we struggled a bit on Friday afternoon trying to get a set-up but by the time qualifying came around everything was working really well. The whole bike and team have performed flawlessly the past few weekends and it was nice to be able to top off it again today, it was jusgt a great race.”
Stoner was given a few nervy moments with the 21-year-old finding it harder than anticipated to shrug off the threat of Hopkins. Lap 12 was the decisive one for Stoner as he moved over two seconds clear for the first time.
He praised Hopkins and added: “I started off at 0.6s and then it went up to a second so I guess John had made a mistake. Then it went to 1.2 and it was up and down a little bit but I was close to the limit and he was stll there chasing me down. I was very surprised and a little bit worried but we kept our pace and with about eight or ten laps to go we started to pull a small advantage and I could keep my concentration. Concentrating was easy until the last three laps when I eased off to make sure the tyres and the fuel lasted. Everything was perfect.”
Stoner’s latest crushing victory, which was reminiscent of his performances in Laguna Seca, Donington Park and Istanbul, saw him jump a massive 60-points clear of the struggling Rossi, who couldn’t fend off Bridgestone duo Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi.
Rossi held fifth for sixth laps but when Vermeulen passed him on lap 12 he spent most of the rest of the race desperately trying to fend off the factory Kawasaki of Randy de Puniet.
Asked about his thoughts on the championship, with just six races remaining, Stoner added: “I’m still going to go out there to try and win races. That’s what all of us are here for to try and win races and not only championships. We are all there fighting for every point in every race we can. We knew we had the package today and knew we could maybe sit back too. But we knew we had the pace to win the race and I really just pushed hard. When we do manage to win races like this then the points advantage goes up anyway. I think if you concentrate on it race by race then it gets a little bit easier.”