With third in Australia
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi claimed his tenth consecutive career podium at Phillip Island today, taking third place and clocking the fastest lap of the race in the process.
Team-mate Colin Edwards finished ninth in a race that was
won by Casey Stoner, with Loris Capirossi second.
Starting second on the grid, Rossi slipped to fourth but passed Dani Pedrosa on lap two, only to make a small mistake at the end of the lap, briefly touching the grass at the start of the main straight and letting Pedrosa back past. On lap four of 27 he managed to get in front of the Spaniard once again and he then set off after Nicky Hayden, who was running second behind Stoner. Despite setting the fastest lap on lap seven, Rossi was unable to make much headway until lap 11, when he passed Hayden for second.
As Stoner gradually extended his advantage in front however it became clear that Rossi's fight would be for the runner-up spot as he became embroiled in a three-way battle with Capirossi and Pedrosa. After several changes of position between the trio Pedrosa tailed off and it briefly looked like another being another vintage Rossi-Capirossi showdown, but with little grip left in his tyres Rossi was unable to keep pace with his compatriot and he eventually crossed the line three seconds adrift, with Stoner several seconds ahead of Capirossi.
After failing to find a comfortable setting throughout the practice sessions, Edwards made a change to his setting for the race and, although it took him some laps to adapt and he dropped a few positions early on, he kept pushing throughout and was able to peg back several places. He finished ninth and claimed seven points, which moves him up one place in the championship to eighth.
Rossi's 16-point haul meanwhile sees him move 29 points clear in second place, ahead of Pedrosa. The team now heads directly to Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix in just seven days time.
“Honestly I'm not too disappointed today because I know I did everything I could have possibly done. I started okay and in the opening laps I felt like I could go quite fast and have the chance to fight at the front. I passed Pedrosa and at that stage I was quite close to Hayden and Stoner, but then I made a small mistake coming onto the straight and lost a bit of time. I managed to pass Pedrosa again but then I wasn't able to close the gap to Stoner, even though I was riding at the maximum. In places I had fun and I made some good passes; at the end especially I was hoping for a great battle with Capirossi, like the old days, but by then the grip from my rear tyre was very poor and I had to slow down to make sure I would arrive to the end. I am very happy that I was on the podium because this is a special place and it's always a big emotion to stand there with all the crowds in pit lane. Today with Casey I think it was a bit like for me in Mugello! Anyway, now we go straight to Malaysia, where our bike usually goes well, so once again we will do the maximum and try for the win.”
“After the problems we'd had all weekend we made a big change to the tyres and to our setting for the race, more towards what Valentino was running, so it was pretty different to what I'd been used to all weekend. I got pinched a bit at the start and had to go round the outside of a few people, and then I had a huge moment at the end of the first lap where it nearly flicked me off and I lost a few places. Once I'd got the measure of how to ride it though it actually felt okay and I did a 31.9 at one point, which I hadn't been close to all weekend. I gave it everything I had today and, although I can't be happy with ninth, after the nightmare I'd had all weekend I think it could have been worse. It's been great to have so many family and friends here as ever and I want to say a huge thank you to my guys; they've had to work so hard changing the bike around so much and they've done a great job as always.”
“At the beginning of the race Valentino was keeping the same pace as the riders in front and we were all hoping for a battle until the last corner. Unfortunately it was not possible because after some laps the grip went down and we had to settle for finishing third. We had hoped for a better result today and it's a real pity because we all love this track; it's a magic place for us. Colin made a big effort and did a very good job because he was able to climb some positions in the second half of the race. If he'd had a faster pace from the beginning, he could have made a very good race. Unfortunately we struggled a lot with his bike throughout the weekend and this was the best we could do with him. It was not a disaster today because we were able to confirm Valentino's second place in the championship and we will keep on defending it in the last two races. Now we go to Sepang and we will be fighting for the win again.”