Fiat Yamaha rider and 2008 World Champion Valentino Rossi recovered from yesterday's mishap to charge through the field from the fourth row at Phillip Island today, eventually taking second behind Casey Stoner. His team-mate Jorge Lorenzo took a second consecutive fourth place after a race long battle with several other riders.
A mistake during qualifying yesterday had left Rossi with strained neck muscles and a grid position of 12th, but the Italian relishes a challenge and he was already up to eighth by the end of the first lap, despite narrowly missing a collision when Alex de Angelis crashed out in front of him. On lap four Rossi found himself the back marker of a Yamaha trio, behind his team-mate Lorenzo and Tech 3 rider James Toseland.
He despatched the Spaniard within two laps and got by Toseland soon after but the Briton put up a spirited challenge, wresting third back and hanging on for five more laps until Rossi eventually got the better of him. With a podium place secure the eight-time champion could have been forgiven for coasting home but he is never one to take the easy option and, with clear air and his M1 and Bridgestone tyres working perfectly, he gradually began to close on Nicky Hayden, who was nearly six seconds ahead. Little-by-little he made up the gap until he was within striking distance, making his move on the very last lap to take second and his 14th podium of the season.
After an intense two weeks the MotoGP paddock now has a two week rest before the penultimate round in Malaysia on 19th October.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 2nd Time: +6.504
"That was a very exciting race for me, from start to finish! Unfortunately I made a small mistake yesterday and I paid a high price for it - both with my starting position and with my body! This morning my neck was okay but I had a lot of pain in my head, so I have to say thank you to Dr. Costa and the Clinica Mobile because they gave me a lot of massage and some medicine and I was in better shape for the race.
I got a good start and I was lucky to miss de Angelis by just a couple of centimetres, and then I arrived to Lorenzo and Toseland. The first time I passed James I thought I would be able to go but then he passed me back and I realised that his pace was not so bad, and we had a great battle! He was very strong and difficult to pass but once I did get by I was able to go and then I just kept pushing and gradually Nicky got bigger and bigger.
It was fun to keep fighting till the last lap and I am very happy with this second position because it's always a great emotion to be on the podium here. Thanks to my team and to Bridgestone, with Casey as strong as he was I think this was the best we could have done today and I really enjoyed the race."
Davide Brivio - Team Manager
"We didn't win but this was another incredible performance from Valentino, demonstrating once again how he never gives up. The championship is secure, he was starting from the fourth row and the podium would have already been a good achievement but he still pushed at the maximum and was able to come second!
He wasn't in perfect shape but the Clinica Mobile helped him a lot and he was able to do his best once again. We're racing to have fun now and we had a lot of fun today in a race that was exciting from start to finish."
Fourth place for Lorenzo after island battle
Jorge Lorenzo was disappointed to miss out on the podium at Phillip Island today, despite prevailing in a race-long battle for fourth place. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi stormed through the field after starting 12th to finish second behind Casey Stoner.
Lorenzo started from second on the grid but he did not quite have the outstanding rhythm he had yesterday and he slipped to fourth on lap one. He then traded places with Tech 3 Yamaha rider James Toseland a couple of times before settling in behind the Briton as Rossi loomed behind..
By lap 13 of 27 Lorenzo's world champion team-mate had dispatched his Yamaha compatriots and was disappearing off and it then became a battle for fourth between the Spaniard, Toseland, Andrea Dovizioso and Shinya Nakano with the foursome trading passes at times more reminiscent of a 125cc race.
In the last few laps Lorenzo was able to take control of proceedings somewhat and he was able to hang on to fourth, just ahead of Nakano with Toseland in sixth.
The rookie is 27 points off third in the championship and also has a mathematical chance of second, with two rounds remaining. The next battle comes in two week's time at Sepang in Malaysia.
Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 4th Time: +11.500
"I'm not very happy with the race because I know I should have been able to fight for the podium today. I didn't ride like I know I can, Toseland was in front of me many times and I couldn't pass him, and then I couldn't follow Valentino when he came through. I think I had the rhythm to have been with Valentino but it didn't work today.
Even though it's mathematically still possible, I think that the second and third places in the championship are probably lost to me now. I think that the most important thing now is to get good results in Malaysia and Valencia so that we finish the season in the right way.
The team, the tyres and the bike are all working well, we're getting good results but we know they can be better. I like Malaysia a lot, I rode there in the winter and I think it will be good for Michelin, so I'm looking forward to it."
Daniele Romagnoli - Team Manager
"We're a bit disappointed about today's result because we definitely had the potential to be on the podium and that's what we were hoping for. We had a few more problems than yesterday with grip in the rear and in the hard braking areas we weren't as good as the others, so we suffered for this.
Aside from this it was a good race and Jorge had a great battle for fourth, so despite the result we've enjoyed it and now we're looking forward to the next one."
Birthday boy Toseland celebrates in style at Phillip Island
James Toseland celebrated his 28th birthday in fantastic fashion today, the Tech 3 Yamaha rider equalling his best MotoGP result in a pulsating Australian MotoGP race. Toseland played a starring role from the start of an enthralling 27-lap race as he charged into third place on the first lap.
He briefly surrendered third to fellow Yamaha YZR-M1 rider Jorge Lorenzo on lap three, but retaliated superbly with a bold move at the first corner on lap five. Toseland then led a three-way Yamaha dice that included a hard-charging Valentino Rossi as he rode magnificently to keep the world champion at bay for six laps. Twice Rossi passed Toseland in quick succession, only for the British rider to respond with inch-perfect moves to reclaim third in what proved to be the battle of the race.
Toseland's determined pursuit of Rossi thrilled a large Australian crowd, but as he lost touch with the Italian on lap 13, he was then locked in another terrific battle with Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Shinya Nakano. Just when it looked like his faultless display would be rewarded with his career best result, he dropped from fourth to sixth on a frantic lap 25.
Toseland continued to push hard but was unable to improve on sixth, but his performance was arguably the outstanding ride of the day.
Colin Edwards also made a great start from the third row of the grid as he tried to mark his 100th Grand Prix appearance with a top six. Fifth on the first lap, he quickly encountered some traction issues, and his reward for a hard fought race was a battling eighth place. Today's result saw the Tech 3 Yamaha team move back into fourth place in the Team World Championship standings.
James Toseland - Position 6th - 100 points
"That was an unbelievable race. I got a really good start but Casey and Nicky were incredibly fast at the start. They really put the hammer down and I was wary that I needed to save my tyre for the last few laps, which are always difficult on this track with so much wear on the left side. I just wanted to stay out of trouble but I had some incredible battles out there. The one with Valentino was something special.
When he passed me I knew I had to get straight back by him. If I had let him go I knew I'd have to push right at the limit and that would wear my tyre too quickly. The rear was already spinning at that point and I tried everything I could to keep him behind me. When he did pass me and he pulled a gap, I did push a bit too hard and that cost me towards the end of the race.
But it was an honour to be racing with Valentino and passing him. In the last three laps I'd just lost a bit of grip and that was crucial because it probably cost me those two places. I knew fourth was up for grabs so I tried to pass Andrea at Honda Hairpin on the last lap. We ran a bit wide and Andrea seemed a bit upset but I passed him without touching him.
I am sorry if he is upset, but he is upset for no reason. I was fighting for the best result of my MotoGP career so I had to try something. Shinya came by as I ran wide but I passed him back at Siberia, only for him to come right back underneath me because I ran a bit wide again.
I am just happy with the way I rode. I rode hard and I am really pleased that on my birthday I put a good show on and I could enjoy it. I was riding my heart out and when I have a ride like that and I pass Valentino it encourages me even more."
Colin Edwards - Position 8th - 126 points
"I got a really good start and I thought I could hang in with the battle for third and fourth, but pretty much from the first couple of laps I knew it was going to be a really difficult race. I couldn't even keep them close to me because I couldn't get in the corner and I couldn't get out of the corners. Quite early on I had a moment on the front-end and that hadn't happened all weekend.
After that I just couldn't push and I just stayed at the same pace. I couldn't really do more than a 31.5 and it didn't matter what I did I kept falling back. Right at the end I could see de Puniet was running into a few problems with his rear tyre and I was slowly reeling him back in.
I managed to pass him and make it stick. It is severely disappointing because I really believed that I could run up close to the podium today. I was riding really hard so to finish eighth is frustrating. I felt like I was on the absolute limit at the pace I was running and it wasn't good enough.
This isn't the way I wanted to celebrate my 100th Grand Prix, but congratulations to James. He rode a great race and I'll be looking for a lot more in Malaysia.."
Herve Poncharal - Team Manager
"James was absolutely incredible today and he could not have done anymore to get his best result of the season. It was a shame he was sixth again, but again he showed what a true fighter he is. We were quietly confident going into the race after we had a very strong qualifying session with James fifth and Colin seventh on the grid.
James made an incredible start and when we saw him fighting in third we couldn't believe it because we weren't sure whether he could maintain the pace knowing how tough this track is for the tyres. But he kept his pace and that was impressive. He also fought very hard with some of the top guys in this championship.
His fight with Valentino was extra special and terrific to watch. Not a lot of guys get passed by Valentino and then pass him straight back, so it was incredible to see him do this. We were dreaming of a podium at one point but the way he rode, I think he gave the fans a really special show. It was a great way to celebrate his birthday and I think he gave himself a good present with that ride.
Colin didn't finish where we expected but he fought hard to the end and his result has helped us move back into fourth in the Team World Championship, which is very important for us. I'd also like to congratulate Mike di Meglio for winning the World 125 Championship. As a French team it is special to see home grown talent succeed on the world stage."
Circuit Length: 4445
2008 MotoGP Australia - Phillip Island 05/10/2008 Race 1
1 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 40'56.543
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0'6.504
3 Nicky Hayden Honda USA 0'7.205
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 0'11.500
5 Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 0'11.914
6 James Toseland Yamaha GBR 0'12.243
7 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0'12.780
8 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 0'25.920
9 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 0'26.037
10 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 0'26.799
11 Toni Elias Ducati ESP 0'27.027
12 Anthony West Kawasaki AUS 0'47.808
13 John Hopkins Kawasaki USA 0'48.333
14 Sylvain Guintoli Ducati FRA 0'48.899
15 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 0'48.935
Best Lap Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1'28.665
Rider Standings 05/10/2008
1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 332
2. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 245
3. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 209
4. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 182
5. Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 145
6. Nicky Hayden Honda USA 131
7. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 126
8. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 118
9. Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 106
10.. Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 102
11. James Toseland Yamaha GBR 100
12. Toni Elias Ducati ESP 91
13. Sylvain Guintoli Ducati FRA 60
14. Alex De Angelis Honda SMR 55
15. Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 54
Team Standings 05/10/2008
1. FIAT Yamaha Team 514
2. Repsol Honda Team 340
3. Ducati Marlboro Team 296
4. Tech3 Yamaha 226
5. Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 222
6. Honda Gresini 161
7. Team Alice 151
8. JIR Scot Team 145
9. Kawasaki Racing Team 96
10. Honda LCR 54
Manufacturer Standings 05/10/2008
1. Yamaha 361
2. Ducati 286
3. Honda 275
4. Suzuki 165
5. Kawasaki 81
- Yamaha Racing -