AUSTRALIAN CASEY STONER has taken the lead in the MotoGP championship after clinching a rain-affected Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, recording his second win of the season.
The Australian broke Valentino Rossi?s seven-year stranglehold on the event, benefitting after pitting from a switch to a softer slick tyre than his rivals.
After starting from second on the grid, Stoner charged to the lead early in damp conditions, immediately setting the pace at the front of the pack with compatriot Chris Vermeulen close behind.
However, Stoner?s progress was stymied by the improving conditions as he lost the lead to Vermeulen before slipping down the order to sit sixth as the riders dove into pit lane to switch bikes.
But as his rivals struggled on the cold rubber, Stoner was able to set a strong pace almost immediately, briefly dicing for the lead with both Loris Capirossi and Andrea Dovizioso before establishing the tempo of the race and crossing the line to secure Ducati?s first premier class win at Mugello.
Stoner was rapt with the result, declaring Mugello?s MotoGP event as ?the one I really wanted.?
?We started out well in the wet, I felt good and the bike was doing great until the wet tyres were worn out. I kept trying to push to the limit because I didn't want to lose ground on the others like at Le Mans and stayed out there until I was absolutely sure it was the right time to change tyres,? he said.
?As soon as I went out on slicks I felt comfortable and competitive. Unfortunately I had an issue with the clutch and it started to give me a few problems. Loris came past and was pushing hard and riding very well and he kept me on my toes.?
The Yamaha?s of Lorenzo and Rossi completed the podium positions while Vermeulen fell to 10th despite the promising start.