Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi claimed his tenth consecutive career podium at Phillip Island today, taking third place and clocking the fastest lap of the race in the process. Team-mate Colin Edwards finished ninth in a race that was won by Casey Stoner, with Loris Capirossi second.
Starting second on the grid, Rossi slipped to fourth but passed Dani Pedrosa on lap two, only to make a small mistake at the end of the lap, briefly touching the grass at the start of the main straight and letting Pedrosa back past. On lap four of 27 he managed to get in front of the Spaniard once again and he then set off after Nicky Hayden, who was running second behind Stoner. Despite setting the fastest lap on lap seven, Rossi was unable to make much headway until lap 11, when he passed Hayden for second. As Stoner gradually extended his advantage in front however it became clear that Rossi's fight would be for the runner-up spot as he became embroiled in a three-way battle with Capirossi and Pedrosa. After several changes of position between the trio Pedrosa tailed off and it briefly looked like another being another vintage Rossi-Capirossi showdown, but with little grip left in his tyres Rossi was unable to keep pace with his compatriot and he eventually crossed the line three seconds adrift, with Stoner several seconds ahead of Capirossi.
After failing to find a comfortable setting throughout the practice sessions, Edwards made a change to his setting for the race and, although it took him some laps to adapt and he dropped a few positions early on, he kept pushing throughout and was able to peg back several places. He finished ninth and claimed seven points, which moves him up one place in the championship to eighth. Rossi's 16-point haul meanwhile sees him move 29 points clear in second place, ahead of Pedrosa. The team now heads directly to Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix in just seven days time.
Valentino Rossi, "Honestly I'm not too disappointed today because I know I did everything I could have possibly done. I started okay and in the opening laps I felt like I could go quite fast and have the chance to fight at the front. I passed Pedrosa and at that stage I was quite close to Hayden and Stoner, but then I made a small mistake coming onto the straight and lost a bit of time. I managed to pass Pedrosa again but then I wasn't able to close the gap to Stoner, even though I was riding at the maximum. In places I had fun and I made some good passes; at the end especially I was hoping for a great battle with Capirossi, like the old days, but by then the grip from my rear tyre was very poor and I had to slow down to make sure I would arrive to the end. I am very happy that I was on the podium because this is a special place and it's always a big emotion to stand there with all the crowds in pit lane. Today with Casey I think it was a bit like for me in Mugello! Anyway, now we go straight to Malaysia, where our bike usually goes well, so once again we will do the maximum and try for the win.