Australia MotoGP: Casey Stoner revels in home success

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Casey Stoner became the second most successful Australian rider in Grand Prix history with a stunning victory over Valentino Rossi at Phillip Island.

Making only his second appearance since returning from a three-race illness lay-off, the 24-year-old fought off a fierce challenge from Rossi to claim his 19th MotoGP success for Ducati.

His victory in front of 50,094 fans moved him ahead of the on-looking Wayne Gardner and the 2007 world champion could barely contain his delight at beating by Rossi by 1.935s for a third straight Phillip Island success.

“I’d forgotten how good that winning feeling is and of all my victories this is perhaps the most special.

“I can honestly say that from a physical perspective I can’t ever remember feeling this strong after a race, which shows that the work we have done and the time we took out has been spot on.

“This has been a really tough season for us. The start of the season we were competitive enough to fight for the championship.

“By the time we got halfway through we were just collecting points. We weren’t even really fighting for anything.

“And that’s why we decided to take that decision to have time off and this is the result of it. I think without taking that time off we wouldn’t be anywhere near the podium today.

“Things would’ve been too difficult for me and physically I wouldn’t have been able to last the race.

“It’s just been fantastic. To come back and get a second in Portugal and almost enough pace to win it and here, to have enough pace to win it, its just fantastic.

“I can’t ask for more. We definitely made the right decision to take that time off and find our way.”

Stoner said he never had any worry about the fatigue issues that dogged him earlier in the season would return and hinder his bid for a third win of 2009.

“Every time I went on the brakes into MG or Honda Corner, I kept expecting my arms to start buckling and just things start to get real hard, but it just never came.

“And five races doesn’t sound like a long time, but when week after week you have the same problem and not being able to fix it and for no reason, it was very, very difficult. Today was just fantastic.

“It was the same in Portugal. I was definitely a little bit more exhausted in Portugal. Of course the weather was a little hotter.

“And we hadn’t had any physical training. We done a little bit this last week just to get myself back up there again and there were no problems for the race. So we were able to just stay consistent throughout.”

Stoner said he expected the pace to be a little faster as he strived to keep a determined Rossi at bay.

But like the majority of the field, Stoner and Rossi both ran into grip problems with the left side of their Bridgestone tyre.

It made for some spectacular but rare sliding in the 800cc era and Stoner said: “I thought the track conditions were good enough to go a little bit faster than what we were.

“We were definitely struggling with rear end grip. I think everybody was to a certain point.

“But that’s something we struggle with in general with our bike at the moment. The bike turns well and brakes well, but we just can’t get grip out of the corners at most of the circuits we go to.

“So its something were still working on each week and when we solve that I think things are going to come a long a lot better and it’ll work a lot more smoothly at most circuits.

“We’re having small pumping issues again recently, because we’re trying to get the bike to hook up but its not hooking up consistently, so it’s causing the bike to move a little bit. Once we solve that we should be fine.

“But anyway the bike was working well enough to stay at the times we were today and hopefully next week in Sepang we can try to stay at the front as well.”

Stoner’s victory promoted him to third in the championship with the fast starting Dani Pedrosa fading to finish a distant third.

As well as trying to secure third in the final standings, Stoner said his other target in the final two races would be to give crucial information to Ducati’s technical staff for the 2010 Desmosedici.

“Now my aim is to help them as much as I can over the last two races and give Filippo (Preziosi) as much useful data as I can so that he can work his magic and improve the bike even more for next year,“ said Stoner.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt