It was an emotional final round of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship for the Ducati Team at Valencia on Sunday as Casey Stoner signed off after four years with the Bologna factory with a final podium result.
The Australian, who took 23 premier class wins and 42 podium finishes in total with the Italian marque – including his and the factory’s first MotoGP World Title in 2007 – finished second in his final race with the team, before moving on to a new challenge in the premier class.
Stoner displayed devastating pace in practice and qualifying, taking his fourth pole position of the season for the race at over three-tenths of a second ahead of 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
The 25 year-old led the race for over two-thirds of its duration before being overtaken by Lorenzo, the eventual race winner, but second place was a successful way to end his successful partnership with Ducati.
“Casey’s podium result was very good, he showed during practice he could go faster but that’s racing and you accept it,” said MotoGP Project Manager Alessandro Cicognani.
He continued: “We have had some dinners with Casey and the team over these past few days and I’ve seen people close to tears, and I think Casey feels sad about leaving Ducati as we do.”
“But sometimes in a family you decide to move away. One day you may decide to come back so the door is always open. Casey will be with us forever, as well as the other riders, and I think that’s the best farewell we could give him.”
In the race team-mate Nicky Hayden appeared on course for a podium challenge after he also showed a hot pace to qualify in fifth position on the grid. The American got off to a fantastic start and was right behind his colleague but on the third lap lost control of his Desmosedici GP10 for a frustratingly early end to his race.
“Nicky was doing well and had a good warm up, but then he was not able to show his potential,” said Cicognani. “Let’s say we’ll look at the cup half full though because the bike appears to be working well and now we start the 2011 season.”
Indeed preparations for the new campaign began immediately after the final round, with just a day’s rest between the race and the start of the two-day Official MotoGP Test on Tuesday. Riding the GP11 alongside Hayden will be new team-mate Valentino Rossi, as an exciting fresh chapter in Ducati’s MotoGP history begins.