Tue, Aug 30, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Casey Stoner tightens his grip on the MotoGP title

Reuters, INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana

Casey Stoner, of Australia, rides his Honda through a turn on his way to winning the Indianapolis MotoGP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Australian Casey Stoner tightened his grip on the MotoGP title, blitzing to victory at the Indianapolis Grand Pix on Sunday for his third consecutive win and seventh of the season.

Stoner, starting from pole after destroying the track record in Saturday qualifying, briefly surrendered the lead to Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, but roared past the Spaniard seven laps later and then powered his way to a runaway victory.

Pedrosa, last year’s winner at the Brickyard, settled for second, crossing nearly five seconds back, while American Ben Spies gave the home crowd something to cheer, taking third.

With a 10th consecutive podium finish, Stoner extended his lead at the top of the standings over Spain’s world champion, Jorge Lorenzo, who finished fourth, to 44 points with six races to run.

“There are crucial points throughout the whole season and we just have to make sure we keep our heads down and keep trying to win races,” Stoner told reporters. “That’s what I enjoy most and it’s what we are here to do every weekend.”

It was another dominating display by Stoner, who had complained bitterly all week about the slippery track he labeled one of the worst on the MotoGP circuit.

However, there was no hint of distress in the Australian’s performance as he neatly navigated the 4.22km layout, which uses part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s oval on another sweltering day at the famed Brickyard.

“I’m not like some other riders who just enjoy tracks because they win there,” said Stoner, the 2007 world champion. “I’ve won on most of the circuits we have on the calendar and I can’t honestly say this is better than most of them. We drive on some fantastic circuits; I don’t get a kick out of it just because I win. I was struggling a little bit with the grip and didn’t feel comfortable, but I suppose, compared to everyone else, we felt pretty good.”

Both Pedrosa and Spies agreed they had no hope of reeling in Stoner.

Pedrosa started behind Stoner on the second row, but shot into the lead on the first turn.

Some early wobbles dropped Stoner down to third, but the Australian stalked the leaders and before the race reached the midway point was in complete command.

“I knew for the race pace I was not there,” Pedrosa said. “I did a couple of good first laps, but then Casey went by and started to pull away. I kept focused on my rhythm and I was happy with my performance.”

One rider not pleased with his day’s work was seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who had a miserable weekend with a 10th place finish.

After crashing in qualifying, the Italian started well down the grid and labored to his worst result of the season.

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