Andrea Iannone hailed his maiden premier-class victory in Austria as a 'magic moment' after the Italian won Ducati's first MotoGP race since Casey Stoner at Phillip Island in 2010.
Iannone - much criticised for numerous incidents this season, which cost him his Ducati ride - held off team-mate Andrea Dovizioso to claim victory at the Red Bull Ring and afterwards said it was a special feeling to follow in Stoner's footsteps, who was present to witness the achievement in Austria.
“It's a very beautiful moment, it's a magical moment for me, but also for Ducati to come back with a victory after six years, and especially after Casey Stoner because he is a very strong rider,” said Iannone.
“Always he is very fast, so I think for me and for us, it is a very special moment. It's very difficult to explain the feeling, but it was an incredible race. Andrea was riding very fast and had a very strong braking point, also Jorge [Lorenzo] from the beginning of the race pushed very fast to try to stay in front of me.
“I wanted to make the best race and not push a lot because I started with the soft tyre. For me it was very important to manage the tyres and not use at 100 per-cent, not spin a lot and not slide, and I thin this strategy is fantastic,” he added.
“Also I managed the fuel and used less fuel for half race. After I made changes with the map and pushed a little bit more. I think the strategy with the team from the box was perfect and I'm very happy because it's a very special moment for me.”
Iannone made a last-minute decision to switch to the medium rear tyre in contrast to his key rivals, who used the harder option. It was a gamble that paid off and Iannone said the strategy worked to perfection.
“When you have a very good chance to fight at the top and everybody starts with the hard one and you start with the soft... I'm not sure [why I chose the soft]! Yesterday I rode with the hard and the soft one and I feel the soft one is better for the drop in grip. I think it was a very good decision but not so easy, but I believe in myself,” said the 27-year-old, who says his debut victory has boosted his confidence.
“I think the first victory for me in the MotoGP class is very important because in the past I won many races in Moto2, but in the MotoGP class it is another story because you fight with the best riders ever, with Vale, Jorge Dovi – with many world champion riders and this is very incredible for me,” said Iannone.
“For sure it helps me to believe a little more in my potential and I want to continue in this way, improve year by year and race by race.”
Looking ahead to the next race in the Czech Republic, Iannone feels Brno is another circuit that will play to the strengths of the Desmosedici and is confident he can challenge for the rostrum again.
“I think Brno is also a very positive track for us because last year we had a very good potential. I had a small technical problem but without this, I think we have a very strong possibility to fight for the podium,” he said.
“Also, I think after this race and after this week and also after Sachsenring – where we didn't have the pace to fight for the victory but we finished on the podium – I think me and Andrea have a very good chance.”
Iannone will end a four-year career at Ducati and join Suzuki for 2017. Dovizioso was chosen to remain alongside new signing Lorenzo, who completed Sunday's podium with third place for Yamaha (+3.389s).