Casey Stoner took a casual surf ride towards his second MotoGP world championship at Silverstone yesterday, when he won a wet and dangerous British round by an easy 15.159 seconds on his Honda RC212V.
The 25-year-old Australian looked as relaxed as a Sunday morning wave-rider at Bondi Beach as he claimed his fourth victory in six rounds of the 18-race championship, while main rival Jorge Lorenzo plunged into gravel when caught out by the rain.
Stoner now leads Yamaha's reigning world champion Lorenzo by 18 points and seems set for a year of domination in the final season of 800cc bikes in MotoGP.
Italian Andrea Dovizioso, 23, finished second on another Honda, while the best Yamaha belonged to the Texan Colin Edwards, a 37-year-old veteran of MotoGP street wars who rode with a titanium plate and 13 screws in his shoulder only nine days after breaking a collarbone in Barcelona.
“I was behind at the start and got drenched,” said Stoner.
“When I got into first place I got some water inside my visor and for the next five laps I couldn't see where the wet patches were or where I should be on the track.
“For the last seven laps it was torture. My hand was freezing and I couldn't understand what brake pressure I had.”
The American Nicky Hayden was Ducati's best finisher in fourth place, while Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista scored his best result of the year in fifth place. Given that he started in 13th place, Valentino Rossi's sixth place might seem a considerable achievement, but in reality it was a disaster.
The Ducati technicians were lost at Silverstone and couldn't provide their expensive new signing with a bike that handled. Rossi finished 1min 4.526sec behind Stoner, in a sport in which a mere second can be an eternity.
“I'm slow on the entrance to corners, and I can't ride the line that I want,” the nine-times world champion complained.
British hope Cal Crutchlow did not race after fracturing a collarbone in qualifying for the MotoGP race, but the 20-year-old Oxford rider Bradley Smith thrilled the home fans by storming from 28th place on the grid to finish second in the Moto2 race.