Heading into the 2010 MotoGP season, few would have predicated that Casey Stoner and Ducati would have to wait until round 13 to take a race win.
Stoner had fallen from a safe lead at round one in Qatar, but made no such mistake on his return to pole position at Aragon - although a morning warm-up fall meant the 2007 world champion was far from relaxed.
The Australian's 21st MotoGP victory, all with the Ducati team he will leave at the end of this season, came after overcoming an early challenge from title leader Jorge Lorenzo and then pressure from Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner kept his advantage over the Repsol Honda rider at just over one-second for most of the race and the Spaniard finally surrendered in the closing stages, allowing Stoner to claim a five-second victory.
“This win is a big relief, to be honest!" smiled Stoner. "We had the first race in Qatar wrapped up until I made a mistake and their have been other opportunities to win this year that I have missed out on through my own errors.
"We have had a lot of problems trying to find the final two or three tenths to run with Dani and Jorge this season but we changed the bike completely this weekend to adjust my position on it and got it working almost how we want it to.
"I had a little slip off in warm-up this morning which was a worry going into the race. I was staying away from every white line that I could over the first few laps but we were able to pick up the pace when we needed to and bring home a win.
"I want to thank the team, the factory and everybody who has stuck by me – I'm just sorry it took so long!”
Completing an excellent day for Ducati was Nicky Hayden, who took third place from Lorenzo on the last lap, handing the team its first double podium since 2007.
"I am really happy for Casey, Nicky and all the team because today is payback for all their hard work," said team manager Vittoriano Guareschi. "They have never backed off, even in the difficult moments. We came to a track that nobody had been to before but our bike worked well from the start. Both Nicky and Casey were fast in all conditions and today they produced a fantastic performance.
"Casey pushed very hard from the start to the finish but he always had the situation under control and even when he made a little mistake he recovered strongly and lap after lap he established an insurmountable lead over Dani. He really was brilliant today."