Casey Stoner 2007 World Champion
The Ducati Marlboro Team enjoyed its greatest day in Japan today, Casey Stoner securing Ducati's first MotoGP World Championship and Loris Capirossi winning the race, run in tricky conditions on a drying track.
The result triggered
scenes of unbridled joy in the Ducati Marlboro Team pit, in the more than one thousand fans who watched the race in the Borgo Panigale Factory with the CEO Gabriele Del Torchio among them and in all the Ducatistis around the world.
Australian genius Stoner had to finish today's race ahead of Valentino Rossi to wrap up the title with three GPs remaining, and he did that, no problem, finishing sixth after leading the early stages. The race couldn't have been more nerve-wracking: it started on a slightly damp track, most riders choosing rain tyres, then the circuit dried out enough for riders to swap to slick-equipped bikes.
Capirossi was one of the first riders to switch, at the end of lap nine, and his strategy paid rich dividends, the 2005 and 2006 Japanese GP winner going on to score a Motegi hat-trick, 10.853 seconds ahead of his closest rival.
Stoner swapped bikes at the end of lap 14 and maintained his renowned cool to become the second youngest premier-class World Champion, after American legend Freddie Spencer. So far this year Stoner has won eight races, taken three further podium finished and scored five pole positions.
CASEY STONER, 6th, 2007 MotoGP World Champion on 297 points
"At the moment it all feels a little bit unrealistic! I'm struggling for words, I don't think there's any feeling that can compare to this, but I think it's really going to sink in as the day goes on and heads into tomorrow. The race started out quite well, we were able to get up front quite early and I had a reasonably good feeling with the bike, I was in a happy position. But then my rain tyres started wearing out as the track dried, and Valentino and Dani (Pedrosa) came past.
I didn't really know whether to come in or not, then my team put 'box' on my pitboard, so I had a bit more confidence to come in. After I changed bikes there was something up with the steering damper, the bike wasn't allowing me to tip into corners, so I had to slow down to unwind it. Then I started to find more of a rhythm, Valentino had a problem and we managed to finish ahead of him. I guess that was the aim of the game today. Towards the end everything was creeping into my head, so I just tried to stay focused on the job in hand, I wanted to bring it home for my team. The whole thing is a bit overwhelming, because we didn't really expect to get the championship today, it's come on me quite quickly. There's a lot of people I have to thank: my parents, who have always been there for me, they've supported me throughout my career, my wife Adriana's who's been there this season and the past few and everyone else who's helped me along the way - Ducati, my whole team, Bridgestone tyres, a big thanks to everyone who's had anything to with my career - we finally did it!"
LORIS CAPIROSSI, winner, 7th in World Championship on 130 points
"We struggled a lot this weekend and only yesterday did we find a better set-up solution. When I woke this morning and saw the rain I said 'wow, for sure this is going to be a difficult day'. We didn't know which would be the best tyres to use, so we started with medium rain tyres. At first it was really difficult, so I decided to pit early, and for sure my tactic was the best because I won my third consecutive race here, it's a great moment for me. It's also a great day for Casey, for Ducati and for the team. I congratulate Casey, he's a really strong rider, I'm very happy for him."
GABRIELE DEL TORCHIO CEO Ducati Motor Holding
"This success, besides its great strategic value, is the best demonstration of Ducati excellence, is a triumph of Italian intelligence, talent, competences and the warmth that is one of our country's most vital assets. It's an important and remarkable achievement, 34 years after the premier-class World Championship was last won by an Italian factory. It is a dream come true. We are speaking of a great feat realised thanks to Casey's commitment, bravery and team work, united with the work of our draughtsmen, technicians, engineers, team members, sponsors and everyone at the factory. They have all worked with great passion and great skill to obtain this championship win, a success emphasized by today's win by Loris, to whom we say a hearty thank you for the great job he's done these past five years. The joy and the pride of experiencing this historic championship result pay back all our efforts and can only encourage us towards even more important and remarkable goals, both in the sporting and commercial arenas."
CLAUDIO DOMENICALI, Ducati Corse CEO/Ducati Motor Holding product director
"It is a dream come true - a fantastic feeling, really fantastic. I don't have enough words to thank all the guys who have contributed to this incredible achievement, which shows that Italy is a nation whose passion and talent can succeed in a hugely technically advanced field. It's certainly a good reason for Italians to be proud - proud about the talent of our engineers and about the quality of our universities. It is also a sign that allows Italy to look to the future and into globalization with a pinch more optimism."