Sepang MotoGP reaction: Casey Stoner on his 10th win in Sepang sauna
MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner continued his domination of the 2007 season with his 10th victory in baking hot conditions in Sepang today.
The 22-year-old claimed another start-to-finish victory as he kept his cool in searing temperatures after coming under intense pressure from Honda duo Dani Pedrosa and Marco Melandri.
Once Stoner grabbed the holeshot it looked like another crushing victory was on the cards as he tried to breakaway from Spaniard Pedrosa, who had started from his third successive pole position.
Stoner though couldn’t make a decisive break and it was eight laps into the race before he managed to open up an advantage beyond 0.3s. On lap nine, Melandri took over as his main threat but factory Ducati rider Stoner had stretched his lead to 0.782s by that stage.
By lap 12 he looked to have broken Melandri’s resolve as he crossed the line 1.815s clear, but dogged resistance from the Italian Gresini Honda rider saw him slash the lead down to just 1.139s with three laps remaining.
Stoner though remained in control and he was able to up his pace again on lap 20, pulling 0.5s on Melandri to finally break the former world 250 champion’s resolve.
Stoner said the 21-lap race had been one of the toughest of his amazing season, with his latest win stretching his series lead to a massive 106 points over Valentino Rossi, who finished down in fifth place.
“The biggest battle I had was being out front by myself and not having anyone to focus on. “I've been fine with it all year but this track seems to just take it out of you a little bit more. Pretty much after I crossed the finish line everything seemed to get a bit dizzy. It was a very, very difficult race. I probably got to halfway or the three-quarter stage when I had a couple of front-end loses and had to change my style a little bit, the way I was going into corners, to make sure I didn't lose the front any more. I took up a lot more of my energy and concentration and it was quite hard to keep it at the end. The reason the gap was going up and down so much was because I was trying to get a break for one lap just to recover a little bit.
Unfortunately I'd let them catch too much, so I'd have to really concentrate for another lap which would take more of my energy away, so I think I'm very lucky and very happy to come out on top, “said the Aussie.
Stoner was full of praise for Pedrosa and Melandri, as he got no respite from them at all during a grueling 21-lap encounter run in hot and humid conditions.
“They were fast right to the end. For sure today Dani and Marco were putting a lot of pressure on me, they never let me go and it was quite hard work at the front. It seemed like Dani was there forever. He was really riding well. I was surprised when I saw Marco's name on my pit board but neither of them let me go and it was very hard to keep my advantage at the front, “said Stoner.