MotoGP - round 3

Casey Stoner (Ducati) scored a masterful victory at Istanbul Park in front of a 40,000 crowd today to regain the World Championship lead while team-mate Loris Capirossi rode to third place. Toni Elias (Gresini Honda RC212V) rode to a fabulous second place finish. A first lap incident took Dani Pedrosa (Honda), Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki) and Colin Edwards (Yamaha) out of the race, and relegated the hard charging Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki).

In sunny conditions with negligible wind, 23 degrees ambient temperature and the track gradually warming up throughout the day to 38 degrees, the conditions were set for a full throttle encounter over 22-laps of this demanding 5.430km track.

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who struggled to reach the flag in tenth at the end, got the holeshot from the lights and led the pack into the tricky off-camber, downhill left that is turn one. His team-mate Colin Edwards was in close pursuit along with Stoner and Capirossi.

But there was to be drama on this opening lap. First leader Rossi ran wide on the exit of the high-speed uphill turn 11 slipping down the order to fifth. But behind him into the final three-turn complex, chaos ensued as Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki) clipped Pedrosa’s front wheel and then cannoned into Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) whose machine then took out Edwards. No rider was seriously hurt, but all bar Vermeulen were out of contention.

Stoner was away. He set a fastest lap on lap four and by lap seven he had a 1.4 second lead over his team-mate Capirossi, with Rossi in third, Elias already up to fourth, John Hopkins (Suzuki) fifth, Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda RC212V) sixth and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) seventh.

Rossi shifted past Capirossi on lap nine and Toni did likewise. On the following lap Elias squeezed past Rossi into the final complex as Capirossi slid back through the order before recovering his composure from this mid-race onslaught to climb back to third in the closing laps.

It was Rossi who was in the biggest trouble. The Italian was overhauled by such unlikely candidates as Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) and Alex Hofmann (Ducati) and he was clearly in severe difficulties on his Yamaha motorcycle.

The unstoppable Stoner was six seconds ahead of Elias in the final laps and Toni himself was comfortably clear of the scrap for third intensifying between Capirossi, Alex Barros (Ducati), Marco Melandri and Hopkins. Barros got his nose ahead of Capirossi on the final lap exiting turn 11 but the dogged Capirossi out-braked him into the complex to emerge from the final turn ahead.

Melandri had to be happy with fifth after a wretched qualifying session, while Nicky rode with the will of a World Champion to secure seventh after a troubled weekend. But it will be young guns Stoner and Elias who will derive the most satisfaction from this episode.

Rossi now drops to second place in the championship standings, ten points behind Stoner and 15 ahead of Dani Pedrosa, who was also involved in the first-lap crash. Edwards' unlucky non-finish, only the second in his Yamaha career, means he drops down to sixth. MotoGP teams have a one-day test planned tomorrow although Edwards will wait until the morning to confirm if he will ride after badly bruising his knee when he was knocked down.

Casey Stoner : "We had a great race, unfortunately some of the other riders didn't have such a good race. Really, with the way the Ducati and the Bridgestones were today we couldn't do anything wrong. I got past Colin (Edwards) on the first lap because I wanted to make sure I didn't get held up and bumped back like in Jerez. Then Valentino ran off the track, pretty much gifting me first position. From there we put some good laps together, built a gap and continued from there because some of the other riders were having a battle. I don't want to sound confident, but at first I was pushing hard to get a gap, then after it got to 2.53 seconds I tried to slow the pace, just to make sure everything was safe, and the lap times actually dropped from trying to go a bit slower. The Bridgestone tyres were absolutely perfect, in fact the whole package was just perfect. I have to thank a lot of people, all the team and everybody who's contributed to my career, including Anthony Peadon (Australian former international sprint cyclist) for training me over the last few weeks. We are really determined this year, we're not expecting much, we're just doing the best job we can. With Ducati and Marlboro and everybody together I think we can do a really good job and I think and I hope that we can get stronger as the season goes on."

Toni Elias : “It was like a 125 race with some unbelievable passes being made. I just concentrated on getting as perfect a start as I could and then I was stuck behind Hopkins too long. Once I got past him I took Rossi but couldn’t challenge for the lead because Casey was so fast. I just tried to maintain my position. Thanks to the team and Bridgestone for their faith in me. I feel mature and confident and I know that I can improve even more as a rider.”

Loris Capirossi : "The whole weekend has been fantastic for me, I'm back! Twenty days ago I had the best moment of my life when our first kid was born, so now I'm enjoying riding again and I hope my championship starts here because we still have 15 races to go. Everything worked so good, I got a good start and tried to follow Casey but he was so strong and I preferred to go a little slower. I fought a lot, especially with Alex on the last lap. I lost the front in the fast right, my bike start shaking a lot and Alex overtook me, so I said ‘okay, I have only one opportunity to make the podium, to out-brake Alex at the chicane'. I want to say thank you very much to team, to everyone for keeping confidence in me after two difficult races."

Nicky Hayden : “My start was decent, I made a couple of passes into turn 11 and on lap four I was enjoying the battle and we were having fun. At the end of the race I though I could steal a podium except after halfway I was having real trouble at the fast right-hander. Early in the race it was my best corner. But at the end I just couldn’t get through it. I gave it one last go on the final lap but I has a big moment and barely stayed on.”

Valentino Rossi : "We are very disappointed today because we had high expectations for this race, but instead we had some unexpected problems with the tyre and it's been a disaster for us. Yesterday and this morning the same race tyre felt good but unfortunately today something happened to it after some laps and I couldn't fulfil the potential we had here. We don't know the reason yet for the problem but now Michelin are trying to understand what happened. I had a great start and was leading on the first lap, although I made a mistake at turn eleven when I ran wide and dropped to fifth. However at that stage my bike was working very well and I was able to fight back to second; I felt sure that I was going to have a good battle with Stoner! Sadly though, after ten or eleven laps, the tyre started to lose all grip and I had to slow right down because I was quite scared. It felt like there was a big problem with the tyre and I had to go very carefully just to finish. We were very unlucky today, we started first and second but Colin crashed when he was hit and then I had this problem. I'm also quite unhappy with Elias today because I think he was quite dangerous - more than once he passed me on the inside and then altered his line. This is not a correct way to race. We're all quite sad tonight but we have many more races so we will look forward now to China."

Davide Brivio : Yamaha team Director - "A very difficult and disappointing race for us! Colin was very unlucky as he was hit from behind through no fault of his own and there was no way for him to avoid the crash. He has some bad bruising to his knee but we hope it's nothing too serious. Valentino made a mistake on lap one but he recovered well and it looked like he was set for a good race, but we had some problems with the tyre. We'd chosen the hardest and best tyre that we had available to us but it wasn't enough to fight with our competitors today. We now have to work with Michelin during tomorrow's test to understand why this happened and learn from the mistake. It was very hard for Valentino to keep going until the end in this situation but he didn't give up and took some valuable points; we're still second in the championship so let's move on from here and look forward to China."

Circuit Length - 5378
Temp - 23 and dry

2007 MotoGP Turkey - Istanbul 22/04/2007
Race 1 - 22 Laps
1. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 42'2.850
2. Toni Elias Honda ESP 0'6.207
3. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 0'8.102
4. Alex Barros Ducati BRA 0'8.135
5. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 0'8.289
6. John Hopkins Suzuki USA 0'10.186
7. Nicky Hayden Honda USA 0'10.239
8. Randy De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 0'14.734
9. Alex Hofmann Ducati GER 0'16.042
10. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0'18.999
11. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 0'26.249
12. Carlos Checa Honda ESP 0'29.546
13. Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 0'36.922
14. Makoto Tamada Yamaha JPN 0'38.540
15. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA 0'39.337

Rider Standings 22/04/2007
1. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 61
2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 51
3. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 36
4. Toni Elias Honda ESP 35
5. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 30
6. Nicky Hayden Honda USA 26
7. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 26
8. Alex Barros Ducati BRA 25
9. John Hopkins Suzuki USA 23
10. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 21
11. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 20
12. Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 15
13. Carlos Checa Honda ESP 14
14. Alex Hofmann Ducati GER 12
15. Randy De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 11
16. Makoto Tamada Yamaha JPN 4
19. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA 3

Team Standings 22/04/2007
1. Ducati Marlboro Team 81
2. FIAT Yamaha Team 77
3. Honda Gresini 65
4. Repsol Honda Team 62
5. Rizla Suzuki 44
6. Pramac D'Antin 37
7. Kawasaki Racing Team 15
8. Konica Minolta Honda 15
9. Honda LCR 14
10. Tech3 Yamaha 7
11. Team Roberts 3

Manufacturer Standings 22/04/2007
1. Ducati 61
2. Honda 56
3. Yamaha 51
4. Suzuki 30
5. Kawasaki 15
6. KR212V 3

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