Casey Stoner was a frustrated man on Sunday evening at Le Mans, after problems with both his wet and dry bikes left him a season's worst fifth at the chequered flag.

Starting third on the grid, the Ducati Marlboro rider dropped back to seventh as he fought for grip with his wet weather bike

After changing to a dry bike, fitted with slick tyres, the Australian then encountered a problem with his steering damper, which he managed to fix himself but lost valuable time as a result.

Once he back into his rhythm Stoner was able to re-pass compatriot Chris Vermeulen for fifth place and set the second fastest lap of the race, but fourth placed Andrea Dovizioso was still ten-seconds ahead at the chequered flag.

"I'm pretty disappointed because I don't think we realised our potential at all today - the wet bike we started with had a big problem and I couldn't find any traction from the warm-up lap. I never felt comfortable and I was losing a lot of time but it still wasn't dry enough to come in for slick tyres," said the 2007 world champion.

"Then when I switched over my other bike had a problem with the steering damper and after four laps I had to take my hand off the gas coming down the straight to fix it. After that I felt much better, the bike was more comfortable and I was able to ride to my potential.

"I think if it wasn't for that we would have been able to battle for the podium today but unfortunately these things happen sometimes and we just have to hope things work out better next time."

Ducati Marlboro MotoGP project manager Livio Suppo was eager to put the result into perspective - with Valentino Rossi crashing out, Stoner is now joint equal with the Italian in the world championship standings, and only one point behind Jorge Lorenzo. A far more favourable situation than one year ago.

"Unfortunately we didn't have any time to set the bikes up for the wet conditions today so it was a bit of a gamble and Casey who we know is unbelievably fast in the rain, was unable to meet his potential," said Suppo.

"Things were better in the dry and only one rider [Dani Pedrosa] set better lap times than Casey. It has been a real shame but we have to think positive because last year when we left Le Mans we were 41 points behind in the championship and now the gap is just one."


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