Casey Stoner described winning his first MotoGP world championship crown as an ‘absolute dream’ on a memorable day for the Australian and his factory Ducati team in Japan.
Not only did Casey Stoner’s sixth place in a rain-hit Japanese MotoGP break a winning streak stretching back 33 years for Japanese manufacturers, but Loris Capirossi also clinched a third successive victory in the Twin Ring Motegi.
With Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi slumping to a bitterly disappointing 13th place, Casey Stoner and his jubilant Ducati squad sparked wild celebrations at becoming the first European factory to win the premier class crown since MV Agusta in 1974.
Casey Stoner’s success with three rounds still remaining also gave Bridgestone its first title on home soil.
After a dramatic flag-to-flag race which started wet and ended almost completely dry, Casey Stoner said: “I really don’t know what to say. We didn’t really expect to win the championship here.
“We thought we’d go out and give it a go and try to score some more points. But to come out and win the championship with still three rounds to go, it’s an absolute dream.
“Just to win the championship is a dream, but to win it with such a big advantage is incredible. I’ve got to thank everybody that’s worked so hard this year and through my entire career to get me to where I am.
“There’s been a lot of people in my life who helped get me here, a lot of people that believed in me, and a lot of people that didn’t. It’s nice that I can give the people that believed in me a gift, which is this world championship. And to prove to the people that didn’t believe in me we can do it.
“It proves that if you never give up anything can happen. My parents have sacrificed so much for me to be here. I have to thank them probably the most for my whole career.
“My wife Adriana who’s been here the last few seasons has just been excellent and since we’ve been married she’s been here every race and supporting me, so I’ve always got somebody there for me. That’s been a lot easier this year.”
Casey Stoner became the second youngest rider in history to win the premier class title and after such a startling season of dominant performances, it was ironically his worst result that put the championship beyond any doubt.
Starting from his worst qualifying position of the season in ninth, Casey Stoner knew he had to defeat Valentino Rossi to become the first Australian MotoGP champion since Mick Doohan in 1998.
On full wet Bridgestone tyres the 21-year-old made the perfect start and found himself third at the end of the first lap. With Valentino Rossi only seventh, Casey Stoner quickly moved into second when he passed Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.
Just four laps had gone when he was gifted the lead by compatriot Anthony West having to pit for a ride through penalty having jumped the start.
But he lost the lead on the next lap when Marco Melandri swept past, and the champagne was on ice when Rossi surged through to grab second on lap 12.
The drama then started to unfold with a clear dry line now appearing, Casey Stoner came into the pits on lap 14 to switch to his GP7 machine fitted with slick tyres.
He dropped as far back as eighth but eventually finished sixth, with Valentino Rossi out of contention having struggled with grip problems from a cut slick front Michelin tyre.
Casey Stoner said: “In the first part of the race I was fine, I was comfortable and the tyres and everything felt good. But I knew they’d start to come downhill with the track coming dryer.
“And sure enough, they pretty much destroyed themselves. I came in to get slick tyres, but there was some problem with the bike, I think the steering damper. I had to loosen up the steering damper because I kept running wide into the corners.
“From that point on I wasn’t so confident, but I saw Valentino also had another problem and we had an advantage. I started to relax a little bit more after that and concentrate on finishing the race, staying in the dry lines, and everything worked.”
Casey Stoner said the key was not letting thoughts of the championship disturb his concentration and he added: “There was something trying to get into my head to try and affect me in the last two laps, but I just made sure I stayed focused, set my mind on Marco in front of me, just not let him go too far.
“We were able to stay pretty focused. “Probably coming through the last corner I can’t really remember it a heck of a lot. So I didn’t have a lot of time what it was actually going to be like, but we crossed the line as world champion. I don’t think there’s any better feeling.”