Assen MotoGP: Casey Stoner ends podium drought

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Casey Stoner’s long quest for a MotoGP podium ended in Assen when the factory Ducati rider claimed a hard fought third place in the Dutch TT, The 24-year-old hadn’t been on a premier class rostrum since last October’s Sepang race in Malaysia.

But he easily scored his first podium of a tough campaign to finish behind Spanish duo Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.

Stoner though was hindered by a right arm pump problem and though he shadowed Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda for the majority of the 26-lap race, he could never get close enough to seriously threaten an overtake for second.

The 2007 world champion had also struggled with arm pump on his way to fifth place in the recent British MotoGP race at Silverstone and he said: “I thought it was enough time to get over it but on Monday after Silverstone my arm was actually very sore and hurting.

“I guess it just pumped up a little bit too much and pushing it throughout the race kind of damaged it slightly. And I thought I’d definitely be 100 per cent by the time I got to Assen.

“But Friday afternoon, immediately within a few laps I started feeling a few little niggling bits that started pumping up and started giving me a few problems on the brakes.

“In general, the team’s done a fantastic job with the bike. It’s been capable of doing a lot better than what I’m doing on it.”

Stoner denied he would need surgery to rectify the arm pump issue which is a common ailment for riders.

Asked if he would go under the knife he said: “Hell no. If I can go without ever having another operation I’ll much prefer it.

“There are a lot of theories as to why arm pump happens and things like that. And I haven’t got any problem in my left arm, it’s only my right.

“And it was really only at Silverstone that it came out and probably also here because we didn’t have enough time to recover from it.

“We’ll do as much work as we can to try and flush everything out of the system and try to get it back to basics again. The bike is working well and that’s important. That’s all that matters.”

Stoner raced with the softer option Bridgestone rear tyre with Ducati suffering problems in generating heat into tyres throughout the weekend.

Unusually hot conditions for the Assen race, which drew a massive crowd of over 97,000 fans, failed to improve Stoner’s situation and he added: “We tried the harder one on Thursday afternoon.

“We couldn’t really get any temperature in the left side, so I’ve been using the softer option since then. We tried the harder option again and couldn’t get any heat into it.

“Our bike is just not putting enough weight on the rear and not getting the tyre working well enough.”

Stoner was at least relieved to have finally registered a podium having previously scored a best result of fourth in Mugello earlier this month.

Stoner, who remains strongly linked to a move to Honda in 2011, said: “We haven’t made a step, but this is the first race we’ve finished in a result where we at least should have been.

“It’s not the first time we should have been up there, but unfortunately it’s taken us a few races to do it. We’ve been fast enough to definitely be on the podium but even compete for the win.

“But unfortunately in Silverstone things were different and here when everything was going so well with the bike, I wasn’t up to it again.

“We’ve got to be very happy with where we are at the moment and the feeling of the bike has been great at the moment.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt