Casey Stoner ended his long victory drought in MotoGP in emphatic fashion at the Motorland Aragon track yesterday.
The Australian was never threatened once he quickly disposed of Jorge Lorenzo on the opening lap as he won for the first time since the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang last October.
Relief was etched all over Stoner’s face as he’d found it difficult throughout 2010 to get Ducati’s factory GP10 into a winning position.
His confidence was badly knocked by a crash out of the lead in the first race in Qatar and when he tumbled out of contention for a podium in Le Mans, his title hopes had all but evaporated after just three rounds.
But the 24-year-old stormed to his 21st premier class win with relative ease and he was surprised that he’d been able to lead every lap.
“When Jorge came past he was meaning business. I thought I got pretty good drive coming up that hill and I didn't what to be too hard on the right hand side of the tyre because a lot of people have gone down this weekend.
"He must have been really confident with that right hand side of the tyre. I decided to get back ahead of him as quick as I could and just blocked my lines for a couple of laps until I saw I could pull a small advantage and then just sat at those lap times until I needed to go quicker."
Stoner’s only likely threat came from in-form Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa. He cut Stoner’s lead to just over 0.8s on lap ten before grip issues blunted his challenge.
Stoner though had obviously feared Pedrosa was going to emerge as major threat when he said:
“When he started to close down two tenths a lap I tried to increase the pace a little bit but he still increased again so I pushed again and equalled his pace and started to be consistent. He dropped back so after this I knew any time I could drop my times and increase the gap.
"There was one point in the race when I didn't expect to be able to pull away but once I got my rhythm I knew any time I could decrease the lap time and pull away. Unless Dani found something over the last eight laps then I was confident."
Stoner was thrilled to have finally ended his winless run that was close to reaching a full year in just three weeks time.
He said: ““This win is a big relief to be honest. We had the first race in Qatar wrapped up until I made a mistake and there have been other opportunities to win this year that I have missed out on through my own errors.
"We have had a lot of problems trying to find the final two or three tenths to run with Dani and Jorge this season but we changed the bike completely this weekend to adjust my position on it and got it working almost how we want it to.
"This was a new track and understanding where the grip was helped me. There were a few points that were difficult and suited my style but in general I just finally got back those few tenths and got everything working well.
"The biggest improvement in the bike was a little bit of front feeling but more grip on the rear. The bike was s more stable and settled not he rear and gave me a lot more grip."