Casey Stoner played a starring role in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, where he claimed an outstanding second place following a hard-fought battle with Dani Pedrosa. Unfortunately his team-mate Marco Melandri was forced to retire on the fifth lap after running straight into the gravel when avoiding a stricken Randy De Puniet, who had crashed in front of him following contact with Chris Vermeulen.
Stoner stormed to his first Mugello podium in MotoGP, his third of the season, and a result that cuts back the gap in the championship to Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. The reigning World Champion currently lies fourth overall, 46 points adrift of Valentino Rossi, 34 shy of Pedrosa and 18 back from Lorenzo.
The next appointment in the Ducati MotoGP Team diary is just five days away, when free practice starts for the seventh round of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya, on the doorstep of the beautiful city of Barcelona.
CASEY STONER (Ducati MotoGP Team) 2nd
"I was disappointed not to be on the podium in my first race here for Ducati last season so this makes up for it and it’s a chance for me to say ’thank you’ to Ducati and all the Ducatisti for their support. We’ve had some problems over the first few races of this season but at Le Mans and here we’ve found a more comfortable set-up and a bike that is really competitive. Today was an awesome race. I led from the start but I didn’t want to push too hard because the front tyre took a few laps to bed in. Valentino came past in a section of the circuit where I was losing a little bit too much time - I was trying to make it up around the rest of the track but pushed it too much into turn one, ran wide and lost touch with Valentino. We knew the setting of the bike would be more suited to the final few laps and we expected to be strong but unfortunately I’d fallen a little bit too far behind. Even so, second place is a great result and it gives us a real boost going to Catalunya."
MARCO MELANDRI (Ducati MotoGP Team) DNF
"De Puniet made contact with Vermeulen and crashed right in front of me. I was to the left of him so I tried to dive to the inside but there wasn’t enough space. I had to go so wide so that I didn’t run over Randy that I ran off track but I was going at speed and crashed. It was a shame because I’d made a decent start and passed a few riders, things were going better than they had in practice but now we’ll never know if I could have kept it up over race distance. Will look at starting out in Barcelona with the same set-up we found for the race today."
FILIPPO PREZIOSI General Director Ducati Corse
"Congratulations to Casey for a fantastic race today and for his first podium at Mugello. It is an important result for him and for us. We’re really happy to see him smiling again and pleased that he’s rediscovered his feeling with the front, which has been missing on a few occasions. At the same time we’re all disappointed for Marco but we cannot give up: we have to keep working together to find the technical solutions that can help him find confidence with the bike. At Barcelona we’ll work on another small step with the engine regulations and I’m sure that when Marco finally gets a good feeling with the bike we’ll be able to make the most of the talent that we all know he possesses."