Rider's comments from Sunday's MotoGP season opener
Casey Stoner: "After a great pre-season, we came into this race weekend and everything kept getting better and better for us. We knew as the fuel level decreased and the tyres aged, that our bike would come back to us. Dani came past and we decided to follow to see where he was strong and where I was weak. Then when I started to feel more confident with the bike and had more grip and better turning, we decided to push forwards and take advantage. Tonight the bike was fantastic, as it has been for all the sessions and I'm very proud to be racing for Repsol Honda and to take my first victory in the first race. It is a great way to start the season! I'm really happy with how everything has gone and the way the team has all worked together, a big thanks to Honda and my best wishes to Japan in this difficult time".
Lorenzo: "I think maybe I am more proud of that podium than a race victory, that’s how I feel tonight. I feel very proud of myself and my team who never gave up and worked to give me the best bike that they can. I put everything I have inside into my riding on the track for the race from the start to the end and was on the limit every lap. I almost crashed on one corner but I managed to stay on the bike and finished in second position which is the best that I could do".
Pedrosa: "I'm disappointed, not for the race I had, but for the physical problems I had again with my left arm. At the end I couldn't grab the handlebar and in the last 7-8 laps I couldn't use the clutch at all. The bike was perfect all race, I had the chance to win but I had a very hard time, one of the toughest races of my life. I don't know what can I do because should be ok after the rest I had this winter. I know we will go to Jerez in two weeks, where the bike will run very well, and I'm very strong and fast, but I don't know what will happen".
Andrea Dovizioso: “I’m a bit disappointed because our target was the podium but all in all I had a good race. In the first laps I thought I could fight for the podium and I’m satisfied with my pace, I also did my fastest lap on the last lap. We ran with a strong pace and the bike was constant but we need to make another step forward to stay with Casey and Dani. I lost time in the fight with Simoncelli, his passing manoeuvre was at the limit in my opinion".
Marco Simoncelli: “I am delighted! I was a bit too nervous over the first few laps but it was so good to be racing at the front of the field that I almost didn't finish the race! At one point when I passed Dovizioso I thought I might be able to go after Lorenzo but I made a little mistake and it broke my rhythm. It was great to see the others so close up and I am sure this was my best race".
Ben Spies: "That’s the first race of the year done and dusted, it wasn’t picture perfect and I got pushed out a bit in turn one. I struggled to get by Valentino for a while, he was riding really well and he’s not an easy guy to get around! We race in two weeks so I’m happy to get back on it at Jerez. It’s the first race of the year, I didn’t make top five but we got some points so I’m happy."
Valentino Rossi: “For sure we’re not here to get seventh-place finishes, but there are also positive things from this race. I had a great start, and that was a nice feeling because the horsepower that this bike has really helps it to launch. Then I made a small error in the first turn, which is a shame because I got stuck behind Barbera. Otherwise I would have been closer to Simoncelli and Dovizioso, since anyway there was a period when I lapped with them. I wouldn’t have beaten them though, because at the end of the race, I’m no longer able to ride like I have to. I’m not referring to the Ducati because even last year, after I hurt my shoulder, I had the same problems in the latter parts of the races, and since the two bikes are so different, it means that it’s really a matter of me not being physically right."
Colin Edwards: “That was the best I could do and I'm happy with the way I rode and my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 gave me a good bike as always. I went round the outside at the first corner and made up a couple of places. But I had a couple of moments, one when I nearly ran into Ben, which wouldn't have been a good move. I thought I might have had something for Valentino early on but even when he's not 100 per cent he can still ride pretty good. I'm never happy with eighth but we got some decent points."
Nicky Hayden: “I got a bad start in the race, and then when De Puniet crashed, I just about ran over him and had to come to a complete stop. I was trying to catch Edwards because I thought it would’ve been nice to have a last-lap race with him, but I didn’t quite get to him. It’s been a tough weekend for me on and off the track, but everybody around here is working to the maximum. They’re the first ones in and the last ones out."
Hiroshi Aoyama: ”When we had the minute's silence at the front of the grid before the race for the tragedies in Japan I felt really emotional. On behalf of my countrymen I want to say thank you to everybody who has shown their support during this sad time. I had a tough race because of the start. De Puniet crashed in front of me and I lost precious ground on the group. My feeling with the team is perfect, we are getting on great and they believe in me, which is important if we are to grow together."
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