As Melandri clinches encouraging seventh
Casey Stoner was unable to turn his sixth successive pole position into a podium yesterday when he relinquished a one-second advantage over Valentino Rossi and crashed out of the twelfth round of the season at Brno.
the first time the reigning World Champion has not made it to the chequered flag after thirty races, since signing for Ducati at the start of 2007, and it leaves him 50 points behind the Italian rider with six races remaining.
Marco Melandri, who started from the fourth row of the grid, put together an impressive charge through the field to finish in seventh place - his second best result of the season.
Following the Czech Republic Grand Prix, Ducati moved up to second in the constructors' championship at the expense of Honda thanks to a fantastic podium for Toni Elias, who came from the penultimate row of the grid to finish second.
MARCO MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team) 7th
"The first ten laps were really difficult because I got a bad start and I didn't have a good feeling. I couldn't push the bike on the way in or the way out of the corners because the bike wasn't hooking up and it felt nervous. Gradually as the fuel load lightened and the tyres got up to temperature the grip improved and became more precise. I managed to improve my pace lap by lap and caught the group ahead of me, then made some passes. It's a shame I lost more than ten seconds over the opening laps because we could have had a really good result today."
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) DNF
"Obviously we are all disappointed with this result because our pace in practice was good, everything went very well this morning and we felt we could push out in front. Things were going according to plan until the crash.
I was doing the same lap time over and over and I was quite happy with the pace I was running. The crash came out of the blue, that corner was an easy one but I lost the front and it happened very quickly, very suddenly and I didn't manage to save it. It's a hard one to explain and we will look at the data but sometimes this kind of crash happens at this level of racing and it was my mistake! We knew that we needed to win this race - and more - in order to close down Valentino's advantage so this makes the championship very difficult for us. Anything can happen in racing but fifty points is a big gap against such a strong and consistent competitor. Anyway I never throw in the towel, nor does anybody at Ducati, and we will keep fighting until the end. Misano is a home race for the factory and there will be lots of Ducatisti there, so my main thought now is to stay positive and bounce back with a good show for them in two weeks' time".
LIVIO SUPPO (Ducati MotoGP Project Director)
"I'm obviously disappointed for Casey because after another incredible weekend it's a small mistake - his first in a race since he's been riding for us - has cost us very dearly. Anyway, we have to think positive and continue to work hard to put him in the right conditions to ride as hard as that in the six races that are left. Marco's second half of the race was really positive - it's a shame he struggled so much over the opening laps. I want to congratulate Toni (Elias) for an incredible race: I'm so pleased for him, for his team, for Filippo (Preziosi) and Vittoriano (Guareschi) because today we showed our bike is competitive not only with Casey."