With Donington triumph
Returning to the scene of his first ever road race appearance, MotoGP World Championship leader Casey Stoner took win number five of the 2007 season and his premier class career at the Nickel & Dime British Grand Prix.
The Australian extends
his lead at the top of the standings to 26 points courtesy of a great performance at a tricky circuit, prompting Ducati MotoGP project manager Livio Suppo to describe his 21 year-old protégé as ‘a genius'. Like all genii, Stoner did things very much his way at Donington Park, having to make up a number of positions after an atrocious start.
Back up to seventh by the end of lap one, Stoner needed just three more laps to put himself amongst the podium spots during the ‘wet weather' stage of the proceedings, finally passing leader Colin Edwards at the halfway point. From there he never looked back; knowing when to back off as a dry line was established on the track and saving his tyres to take his Desmosedici GP7 through to victory.
Once again, the rider on pole failed to win the race, but Colin Edwards at least had a better race than at Le Mans where he took his maiden top spot. Finishing second in his best result of the past two years, ‘The Texan Tornado' will have confidence at an all-time high when he returns to Assen next Saturday to avenge some of his personal demons from 2006.
Having crashed three times over the course of the weekend, Chris Vermeulen rewarded the mechanics that he had kept so busy over the weekend with the final podium position. A fantastic start from twelfth on the grid gave the wet weather expert the chance to show his stuff, and he didn't disappoint with a masterful display.
Overtaking seven-time Donington victor Valentino Rossi at the death, the second Australian on the rostrum held off any attempt at an immediate comeback from the Italian to earn his second top three finish of the year.
Rossi's tyres were destroyed at the end of the race, as the Italian pushed his Yamaha M1 to the limit, and he had to be wary of any mistake allowing the second Suzuki of Anglo-American John Hopkins to close him down.
Randy de Puniet followed up his fifth place at Catalunya with another top six finish onboard the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR. The Frenchman has had little time to recover from an operation on his knee, making his gritty showing all the more impressive.
Alex Barros took seventh on the last lap, ahead of 2006 race winner Dani Pedrosa. After a good start, the factory Honda rider was –in true British schoolyard style- bullied out into eighth by some of MotoGP's ‘bigger boys', as first the Suzuki riders and then Barros imposed themselves on the 21 year-old Spaniard.
Alex Hofmann and Marco Melandri completed the top ten, with the latter only coming into form as the track dried to suggest that perhaps his tyre choice was not quite what was required.
Making his debut for Kawasaki in MotoGP, the Nickel & Dime British Grand Prix was Anthony West's first chance to show what the premier class has been missing over the past six years. The 25 year-old had been fastest in the warm-up, and was one of the outstanding riders of the day. Showing no respect for reputations, West passed the likes of World Champion Nicky Hayden, fellow Australian Vermeulen and five-time MotoGP title holder Rossi to ascend to fourth position in the early going, and almost impressed just as much after a crash soon after.
Dusting off his bike, West returned to the track and set about salvaging something from the race, eventually finishing a respectable eleventh.
DORNA / CAPSIS International