Casey Stoner claimed his first race win of the MotoGP season at the Aragon Grand Prix in Spain yesterday. The Australian Ducati Team rider converted pole position into victory after coming out on top in his duel with the Repsol Honda of home favourite Dani Pedrosa, who signed a new two-year deal with the team on Thursday.
Stoner pulled away in the closing stages to finish 5.148 secs ahead of the Spaniard with Nicky Hayden (Ducati) overtaking championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) on the last lap to claim the third place on the podium. That ended Lorenzo's record of having finished in the top three in every race so far this campaign.
"It's a big relief to be honest," said Stoner. "We had the first race [in Qatar] almost wrapped up until I made a mistake and there have been a couple of other moments through the year where we might've been in with a chance of a victory but it's just been a mistake on my part."
Pedrosa, who started from third on the grid, added: "I didn't make the perfect start and at the first corner I had a slide. I almost crashed there and I was back to fifth. Then I had two or three laps where I had to overtake some riders and by then Casey was already far, far away.
"I tried to catch him but the pace was almost the same, it was the same gap all the time. By the end I was struggling a lot with my tyres, so I said 'OK, this is it today'. I tried my best but second place is not so bad."
Ben Spies (Tech 3 Yamaha) finished fifth, his battle with Andrea Dovizioso ending after the Repsol Honda man crashed out on the final lap, while Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) finished a distant sixth.
Pedrosa's second-placed finish cut Lorenzo's advantage at the top of the standings to 56 points with five meetings of the season left.