Casey Stoner finally picked up his and Ducati's first podium of the season at Assen on Saturday.

The Australian joined eventual race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and Dani Pedrosa (Honda) in pulling away from the field, but arm pump contributed to the 2007 world champion crossing the line just over seven seconds from victory.

"This is the first race this season we have come away from with a decent result. It shouldn't be our first podium of the year but that's the way it is and it was nice to finish a race, not just a qualifying session, and head to parc ferme," admitted Stoner.

"The team has been doing a fantastic job, especially over the last two weekends, when we have established a good base setting that has allowed us to fight for the podium, if not the win yet.

"Unfortunately at Silverstone we had the start we had but here it was me that struggled more than the bike with arm-pump from about mid distance - it was the same problem as Silverstone and I guess we didn't have time to recover.

"It is another setback we have to deal with now but I think we can get over it. Anyway all in all it was a positive day and I want to thank the team for the work they have done".

"We deserved this podium, we haven't had one for a bit and we're happy that it's arrived today," added team manager Vittoriano Guareschi. "The team worked very well, they found a good set-up for the race and fixed the problem with the clutch that penalised Casey a week ago. Casey rode very well, he made eight laps in the 34s, and I think that if he hadn't had the problem with his arm he would have been able to attack Dani. In any case he did a great race."

Team-mate Nicky Hayden got away well from the second row but got blocked by traffic into turn one and lost several positions.

The 2006 world champion managed to pass Colin Edwards and Marco Simoncelli within a handful of laps, but had lost contact with the front group and was unable to reproduce his pace from practice on the way to a season's worst finishing position of seventh.

"Seventh place isn't exactly the best but as always I'm trying to look at the positives: after making a good start on Thursday we had a difficult session on Friday morning with a breakdown and a crash, when we also wrecked a set of tyres, and that obviously made things hard for us. Whilst the rest made progress with their set-up we lost ground," said the American.

"I got a decent start but got held up by De Puniet and was passed by a lot of riders. I managed to pass Colin and Simoncelli but lost time and even though I tried to close the gap the front end tucked a couple of times and I had to settle for seventh. It's a shame because it's our worst result of the year apart from the crash at Mugello but we go racing again next week and we'll be trying to get back to the front."

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