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Casey Stoner: Six of the best

The brilliance of Stoner's early season performances had been aided by the Desmosedici's top speed advantage and Bridgestone's new generation of tyre. But with Honda, Yamaha and Michelin working flat out to close the gap, critics maintained Stoner wouldn't be able to sustain his form over an entire season. Or have the necessary aggression in a fairing-to-fairing battle.

At Catalunya, Stoner got the chance to prove them wrong.

During qualifying, Stoner's Ducati was still 12 kilometres faster down the straight than Rossi's M1. But overall, Stoner was only fourth on the grid - behind Rossi, Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet and Honda's Pedrosa - with the next best Ducati starting tenth.

Stoner was soon up front in the race, with only Rossi and Pedrosa staying in touch.

A pattern quickly established itself: Stoner could gain a few tenths on the main straight, before Rossi made most of it back on the brakes and around the infield.

The Italian continued to press, showing Stoner his front wheel to try and rattle the young Australian. But Stoner remained unfazed, matching Rossi blow-for-blow, with Pedrosa witnessing the battle at first hand, less than half a second back (pictured).

With three laps left Rossi made a scintillating move at the 120mph final corner. But again Stoner kept his composure and overtook him a lap later.

Stoner then defended his lead resolutely throughout a frantic last lap, sliding his Ducati out of the final corner to claim his most impressive victory to date by just 0.069s.

At the time, defeating Rossi in a final lap showdown was almost unheard of - there had always been a sense of inevitability about Rossi's last-lap battles with Gibernau - but at Catalunya 2007 Stoner proved he was a far more formidable opponent.

"Today Stoner rode like a god," declared Rossi.


End.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Casey Stoner (AUS), Ducati Marlboro Team, Ducati, 27, 2007 MotoGP World Championship, Round 7, Catalunya, Spain, 10 June 2007
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