The Grand Prix of China saw both Ducati Marlboro Team riders return to the top five as Casey Stoner clinched third place and Marco Melandri produced his best performance of the season with a battle to fifth.
Stoner had hoped to be more involved in the battle
for victory but a dramatic change in the track conditions led to a different tyre choice than in practice, which limited the Australian's performance. However, the podium is still a positive finish to the weekend for the World Champion, who remains fourth in the championship.
Marco Melandri worked hard all weekend to improve his feeling with the bike and his efforts bore fruit today with an exciting charge through the pack that led him to a merited fifth place, providing a timely confidence boost ahead of the return to Europe.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd
"I'm disappointed to be honest because I know we could have done better today. The bike has worked really well in practice and we thought we had the ideal set-up for today but we changed a couple of things and for one reason or another the package just wasn't as good as before. I made a good start and I was happy with that but even in the first corner I couldn't get the bike turned, Colin Edwards came past me, and that was the story of the race. As the race wore on my lap times improved but it was too little too late and in any case it wouldn't have been enough for me to stick with the lead guys. I'm disappointed this has happened today - not so really for third place which is a good result but for the big gap from the lead.
I know we can do much better so we will put this behind us, wipe the slate clean and try to do better next time out."
MARCO MELANDRI - (Ducati Marlboro Team) 5th
"This was an important day - I think I did the best race possible and in general fifth place isn't bad. The team have done a great job, we've found a much better balance with the bike and the changes Ducati have made to the traction control allow me to have a much better feel for the engine. Things had started to look up yesterday and today we confirmed it. I got a good start, put my rhythm together and was able to get into some decent times. It was good fun and now I finally feel like I can ride my Ducati. Filippo (Preziosi) has always worked so hard to help me and now I hope we can continue in this direction. Spirits are high now and I can't wait for the next race."
LIVIO SUPPO Ducati MotoGP Project leader
"This was a great team performance, with both our riders in the top five and three Ducatis in the top eight. This is very satisfying after two difficult races. Unfortunately Casey wasn't able to go as well as he did in practice, mainly because of the change in temperature that led us to make a gamble with tyre choice, so even if a podium is a decent result, it is less than we'd hoped for, mostly because of the gap from the lead. We have to keep working to repeat the level of performance we showed here in practice and with more hard work from our mechanics and the brilliant relationship we have with Bridgestone we will achieve that. We're also delighted with Marco, who has made an incredible step forward. I always said that we hadn't lost faith in him and I'm sure his season will start here."