It certainly wasn’t an easy Grand Prix of Spain for the two Ducati MotoGP Team riders at the tricky Jerez circuit but a show of character and determination. For Casey Stoner, who was never completely comfortable with the set-up of his GP8 all weekend, his desire to give 100% combined with a touch of bad luck saw him run into the gravel twice.
After a superb start lifted him to third place on the opening lap, the World Champion’s first off-track excursion came on the third lap and saw him relegated to last place. By the 22nd lap an exciting fight-back had lifted him back into the fight for fifth but contact with Nakano at the end of the back straight led to another trip across the gravel. Stoner again returned to the track in eleventh and without enough remaining laps to repeat his comeback.
Like in Qatar, Marco Melandri saved his best for the race and set a much better pace in the second half of the encounter to rise from the very back of the grid to a twelfth place finish.
CASEY STONER (Ducati MotoGP Team) 11th
"Today wasn’t my day - I suppose it wasn’t my weekend! We never found the set-up here that would let us make the most of our potential. Normally braking is one of the strong points of our bike but here I just didn’t have the feeling with the front. I wasn’t quite on the limit when I ran off track the first time but I couldn’t get the bike stopped so it took me by surprise because we weren’t doing anything differently. After that I had to really push to get back into the race and I was pretty happy once I caught the group. Just when I was passing Nakano he let go of the brakes and touched my wheel, so I had nowhere to go but the gravel. I think I could have finished fifth, which I would have been happy with, but instead it was a bit of a disaster. The tyres weren’t perfect but they weren’t bad either so I can’t blame it on that. I’m not happy but it’s not the end of the world - there are plenty of other tracks and other races, starting with Portugal, where we went well last year and finished on the podium, even if we had some little problems, and where this year we will try to fight for victory."
MARCO MELANDRI (Ducati MotoGP Team) 12th
"Today, like in Qatar, we improved in the second half of the race when the bike improved under braking and on the way into the corners so I could ride much better. Unfortunately I didn’t have the grip on the rear and that made me lose a lot under acceleration as soon as I went on the gas. This is my main problem and it is this which we must improve. We knew, however, that this weekend would be difficult because this track is something of an Achilles heel for Ducati, with the 800 at least, because with the 990 they won. In any case we must work and we must continue to improve especially the rear grip".
LIVIO SUPPO (Ducati MotoGP Project Leader)
"It’s been an unfortunate day for Casey, his first running of track affected his whole race. After that he set a great pace and produced a brilliant comeback. Unfortunately he then touched with Nakano and that cost him fifth place - a result that would have been satisfactory at a circuit that really doesn’t suit our package. It’s a shame but it’s only the second race and he can be up there. Today he showed that he’s a fighter and that he never gives up. Marco, like in Qatar, was able to lap at the sort of pace we expect from him in the second part of the race so we need to understand why he’s struggling so much in the first half. Tomorrow we have a day of tests and we’ll work hard to help him and to work out why we’ve struggled so much here."