Stoner takes victory and championship lead in Turkish thriller2007-04-22 09:31
Casey Stoner took his second victory of the 2007 season at the Grand Prix of Turkey in a classic race more than a match for last year's exciting duel. The Australian now leads the championship on 61 points, with a ten point advantage over Valentino Rossi, after triumphing by over six seconds from Toni Elias and Loris Capirossi.
The Ducati rider was almost gifted the lead early on, when his and team-mate Capirossi's pressure forced poleman Rossi to run along the grass at the end of the first lap. Seconds later, the major talking point of the day occurred, as Dani Pedrosa and Olivier Jacque collided, turning the Frenchman's Kawasaki into something of bowling ball, taking out Colin Edwards on the Fiat Yamaha. Also caught up in the incident were Chris Vermeulen and Sylvain Guintoli; the former picking up his bike after being hit by Pedrosa, the latter having to ride all the way round the debris on the run-off section.
Toni Elias in second place was unable to trouble the flying Stoner, but had plenty of his own pursuers nipping at his heels. The Spaniard had started fantastically from tenth, and was battling hard with Rossi in fearless fashion leading to a near-miss between the two riders. The move put Elias in second, where he stayed until the chequered flag, and Rossi right back into the thick of the chasing pack, where he further dropped down before finishing a lowly tenth.
Capirossi completed the podium, holding off a flu-ridden Alex Barros on the line. The two veterans exchanged places on consecutive corners, and with a few extra metres on the final straight the Brazilian may have taken Pramac d'Antin Ducati's first ever podium.
Marco Melandri threatened a repeat of 2006 as he looked to make it a hat trick of victories in Turkey, but couldn't make his challenge stick with the top four breaking away. World Champion Nicky Hayden was pipped on the line by John Hopkins after holding firm throughout the race. Hayden was seventh ahead of Randy de Puniet, Alex Hofmann and Rossi.
Andrea Dovizioso finally brought an end to Jorge Lorenzo's perfect record in 2007, displaying his new-found aggression once again to beat his fierce rival to victory in Turkey. The Italian battled tooth and nail for every centimetre onboard the Team Scot Honda, heading the podium which involved the same three riders as at Jerez three weeks ago.
Starting from pole, Dovizioso took the holeshot to draw first blood in the showdown, leading in the early stages before intermittent turns by eventual third-placed rider Alvaro Bautista and reigning World Champion Lorenzo. In amongst all this, last year's race winner Hiroshi Aoyama crashed out, and brother Shuhei and Aleix Espargaro both received ride-through penalties for jump starts.
On the final lap, Dovizioso and Lorenzo came into contact on the final section of Istanbul Park, with the Italian holding his ground and Bautista attempting to take advantage. He maintained the advantage on the final straight, and took his first victory of the year to round off a fantastic weekend.
Just off the podium once again, Alex de Angelis was unable to join in a battle which he would surely have relished. He came in ahead of 250cc rookies Thomas Luthi, Mika Kallio and Julian Simon, with the top ten completed by Hector Barbera, Marco Simoncelli and Fabrizio Lai.
Simone Corsi took his first ever 125cc victory in a dramatic opening race at the Istanbul Park circuit, edging out Joan Olive after starting from third on the grid. With Gabor Talmacsi, Hector Faubel and Lukas Pesek having been the only riders to step onto the podium this year, it was a somewhat surprising turnaround to see neither of the three on the rostrum today.
The race started with a scare for the unlucky poleman Mattia Pasini, who suffered mechanical problems in Qatar and Spain in the opening two rounds. The Italian stalled his engine on the line in an ominous sign of things to come, experiencing more serious technical problems on lap three whilst in the lead and dropping down the field. A final kick in the teeth for the distraught Pasini came on the final lap, when he was forced out of the race and forced to leave Turkey still without any World Championship points to his name.
After Pasini had left the leading group, a seven rider pack all battled for the victory. Tomoyoshi Koyama, who completed today's podium, had his best race of the season and an intense battle with eventual fourth place finisher Raffaele de Rosa.
Talmacsi continues to lead the championship, although was outside the top three spots ahead of Lukas Pesek, Lorenzo Zanetti and Bradley Smith. The latter equalled his best ever finish, and climbed as high up as fifth in the standings before the more experienced heads pushed him wide onto the rumble strip on the final corner.
Andrea Iannone and Hector Faubel completed the top ten, with the Spaniard effectively opening up the race when he went off track as part of the first group. The only consolation for the Aspar rider will be that his rivals also failed to make the podium spots.
The next race of the 2007 season takes place in China on May 6th.
Source: Dorna Communications
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