Motegi MotoGP: James Toseland boosted by top ten

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British rider James Toseland believes his first top ten finish of 2009 has given him the perfect platform to become a consistent top six contender in MotoGP.

The 28-year-old shrugged off a disastrous winter testing campaign and a frustrating 16th place finish in the season’s opening race in Qatar to claim a hard-fought ninth at the Twin Ring Motegi.

The double World Superbike survived a last lap attack from Chris Vermeulen to get his season back on track and he said: “I needed to be back in the top ten, so this was the step I’d been looking for.  We made a big step with the front-end setting on Friday in just the 45 minutes of dry track time we had this weekend and it helped me a lot.

“The comfort on the braking was much better and I was able to pass a couple of guys on the brakes today, which was good.  I went for the soft rear tyre just because that’s what I’d run most on Friday. We knew the soft one would go the distance, but it wouldn’t be as strong in the latter stages of the race with the temperature being hotter today.

“But I didn’t want to take any risks by running the harder compound, particularly as we knew it would take a couple of laps to get to temperature. In the early part of the race I had quite a bit more grip than some of the guys and I might have been able to pass (Casey) Stoner and (Loris) Capirossi) if I was more comfortable with the bike on a full fuel load.

“That would have pushed me a bit further up earlier in the race when I had an advantage with the softer tyre. It was a good battle on the last lap with Vermeulen. He passed me briefly at the end of the back straight, but I managed to keep him at bay.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt