The battle between former Ducati team-mates Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi got a little too close for comfort in the closing stages of Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, when contact between the pair sent Capirossi briefly off track.

Capirossi held his eighth on the grid for the first three laps of the race, before slipping back to ninth - at the tail end of a seven-rider fight for the final podium position.

Jorge Lorenzo's accident bumped the Rizla Suzuki rider up one place on lap 12 of 21, and Capirossi then got the better of Colin Edwards on lap 15. The Italian was soon behind a struggling Stoner, but the 2007 world champion's powerful Desmosedici made overtaking difficult.

Capirossi gave his all in the final laps to try and lever Stoner out of sixth position - with third place still in sight - but it was 'not to be'.

"It has been a bit of a tough weekend, but I am quite happy today because I tried 100% all race and when you see a podium place that close it makes you try even harder," he said.

"I struggled a bit to get past Colin as our bike still needs more speed to be able to overtake other riders - so that is still something we need to work on.

"Once I got past Colin I immediately caught up with Casey because he was quite a bit slower over the whole lap than me. I tried to overtake on turn two and then ran wide and he came back past, then on the next lap I went into a corner much faster to get past, but I touched the back of his bike and ran off the track!

"If I had got by Casey earlier I really believe I could have challenged for the podium, but it was not to be," he added.

"Towards the end of the race Loris was the second or third fastest rider on many laps and that is an encouraging sign, he pushed to the maximum all race and did a great job," said team manager Paul Denning.

Capirossi's team-mate Chris Vermeulen finished in ninth position.

"I got a good start and felt very comfortable on the first lap. After a few laps I was right up with Loris and everything seemed to be working well, but I then had a few issues with front end grip and that continued as the race went on," said the Australian. "With about eight laps left the rear grip started to go off, making the front and rear more even, and I was able to pass de-Puniet and get up to ninth."

Team Test Rider Nobuatsu Aoki was 17th and a very distant last, crossing the line 45sec behind Marco Melandri.

"The bike was working really well until near the end when we had a bit of problem with the feel of the front end," said the Japanese. "I thought I could have passed some guys to get a point but unfortunately I wasn't able to do that and we also had a few engine performance issues that caused my speed to drop - I really hoped it would rain so I could come in and change the bike as I didn't want to break the engine! I took it easy to the end of the race so that I could finish. I certainly believe from this we now have some very good data to help us for next year and I hope I can help develop the bike for the GP team a lot more."



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