World Champion Casey Stoner paced himself, the bike and the tyres brilliantly to withstand the intense pressure of ex title holder Jorge Lorenzo over 27 laps of the Jerez circuit to claim claim victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. Fellow Red Bull athlete Dani Pedrosa joined him on the podium in 3rd place.
Pedrosa might well have made it a one-two had the race been a little longer as he was closing on the lead duo at the flag. For Stoner it went some way to expunge the memory of the first round in Qatar when he led the race in similar style only to be caught by both Lorenzo and Pedrosa in the closing stages.
This time the pressure was just as intense but he withstood everything the two Spaniards could throw at him. “It was great to turn it around overnight,” said Stoner who only qualified 5th. “Yesterday wasn't great we were definitey struggling a little bit with the set-up. We had to find something for the race today and unfortunately the warm up was wet so we took a gamble for the race and it worked out. We lost a little bit of grip in the rear but it helped the front and to me that's what this track is about, getting the front through those turns.”
“So hats off to the team and the boys, they turned it around and gave me what was probably one of the greatest races of my career. We didn't get a good start but we came through to win and that was a fantastic race for us,” he concluded and he now trails Lorenzo by just 4 points in the title race with Pedrosa a further 5 behind.
Though he made his usual fabulous start and charged into the lead from the middle of the front row Pedrosa was not happy with his early race pace. “I was too cautious in the early laps,” he admitted referring to the damp patches that were still scattered around the circuit after the morning rain. “I have some regrets about that but after that I did a good race. I managed a good rhythm even though the feeling on the bike was not good with the soft front tyre was not perfect. That was the same choice for all the top rider so I thought everyone was the same but I could see that Cal (Crutchlow) was behind and he was on the hard front so that might give him some advantage. Still I managed to ride well, save the front and avoid a couple of crashes and get a good 3rd.”
The early laps had been hectic indeed with Crutchlow barging his way to third after bumping Nicky Hayden wide on turn 6. The Briton chased Pedrosa and Andre Dovizioso, his Tech 3 Yamaha team mate but neither of them could match the pace of Stoner and Lorenzo when they moved into 1st and 2nd on lap 3.
Hayden had done a great job of qualifying the Ducati in third place and held the same position from laps 3 to 6 but then faded, finally finishing back in 8th, just ahead of Ducati team mate Valentino Rossi.
Coming the other way through the pack was Red Bull athlete Stefan Bradl. From 9th on the grid the 22 year old German caught and passed ex World Champion Hayden to take 7th, a great result in only his 2nd MotoGP race.