Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner put in a faultless display in front of 141,000 fans at Brno today, winning the Czech Grand Prix to extend his World Championship advantage to 60 points. Team-mate Loris Capirossi came in sixth after an entertaining tussle with several other riders.
It was another perfect weekend for the awesome Australian who dominated both days of practice, secured pole position and then led from start to finish, leaving his rivals floundering in his wake and stretching his lead in the second half of the 22 laps to beat runner-up John Hopkins by almost eight seconds. It was Stoner’s seventh victory of the year and his second consecutive success following a similarly dominant performance at last month’s US GP.
Capirossi spent much of the race battling back and forth with Chris Vermeulen and Valentino Rossi, eventually crossing line between the Australian and the Italian.
By the end of lap one it was apparent that Stoner was unlikely to be troubled. Hopkins similarly, was edging out a gap over third-placed Hayden and by the end of lap two the leaders were turning in lap times in the low to mid 1m 58 second bracket – times the others found hard to match.
On lap five Stoner enjoyed a 1.1 second lead over Hopkins who in turn held Hayden and fourth-placed Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) at bay quite comfortably. The action was all downfield as a fight for fifth place erupted between Loris Capirossi (Ducati), Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) and Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki).
On lap nine Rossi edged past Capirossi for fifth, but the former World Champion would shortly have to surrender that place to Vermeulen who had got into a rapid rhythm, carving his way past Capirossi on lap 12 and then taking Rossi on lap 14. On lap 16 Capirossi would retake Rossi for sixth.
Even de Puniet was in on the action and although he tried all he knew to get on terms with Rossi, he would remain just over half a second behind at the flag. By lap 18 the leaders were spread out along the 5.403km of Brno by these margins: Stoner by 4.7 seconds from Hopkins, who had 6.8 seconds over Hayden, who in turn bettered Dani in fourth by 2.3 seconds. It was not quite a procession – but nor was it a riveting race.
Perhaps the most significant feature of this weekend in the Czech Republic is the state of the World Championship points table with six rounds left to run. Stoner now has a 60 point lead over Rossi with 246 points to Rossi’s 186. Dani Pedrosa sits third with 168, while Suzuki riders Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins have 124 points apiece.