In the second flag-to-flag race in as many rounds, Casey Stoner ended Valentino Rossi’s Mugello winning streak with a polished performance to give Ducati their first ever victory at the circuit.
Much of the Gran Premio d’Italia Alice race came down to tactics again in front of the 80,000-strong Italian crowd, the riders once more starting on a wet surface and completing the 23 lap contest on slick tyres, with Stoner this time judging things to perfection.
The Australian retook the championship lead as he crossed the line a second in front of former leader Jorge Lorenzo, who also rode well after the scare of crashing on the sighting lap.
Lorenzo’s Fiat Yamaha colleague Valentino Rossi completed the podium in third place as his seven-year winning run at his beloved home track came to an end, the Italian hero crossing the line two seconds behind Stoner and less than one tenth in front of Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Dovizioso missed out on the rostrum on the last lap once again, having held the race lead early on when on wet tyres. Likewise, his compatriot Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) was leading at one stage – later in the race – but he fell away in the final laps to finish fifth.
James Toseland made a brave decision to come in first and change bikes when running towards the back of the field and he just missed out on equaling his best MotoGP result of sixth as he was outdone by team-mate Colin Edwards on the last lap, having also dueled with LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet -who was eventually eighth.
Niccolò Canepa (Pramac Racing) will be delighted to have achieved his best result to date as the second highest Ducati rider in ninth at his home race, with Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) completing the top ten behind the young Italian.
Dani Pedrosa hit the deck and crashed out on lap 14 having already damaged his hip earlier in the weekend, the Spaniard stretchered away from trackside. He will face an anxious wait to see if he is fit for his own home race at Barcelona in two weeks time. Honda satellite rider Yuki Takahashi also crashed out with 13 laps to go.
The 250cc riders did battle on a wet track earlier in the afternoon, with Mattia Pasini (Team Toth Aprilia) eventually coming out on top by a 0.117 margin from second placed Marco Simoncelli – who he brilliantly held off on the final lap.
A big incident with ten laps to go saw title rivals Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar) and Simoncelli (Metis Gilera) clash at high speed, with both riders running off track when Bautista held the lead – Pasini pushing through to take over at the front and the Spaniard eventually finishing third.
Race direction promptly investigated the incident, announcing a 5,000 USD fine for Simoncelli due to his riding in an irresponsible manner.
Thomas Luthi (Emmi – Caffe Latte) finished a distant fourth, 24 seconds behind Pasini, to go some way to make up for his Le Mans disappointment. Héctor Barberá (Pepe World Team) was fifth, three seconds behind the Swiss rider.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing Team) lost ground in the championship in sixth place, whilst Spaniards Alex Debon (Aeropuerto-Castello-Blusens) and Héctor Faubel (Valencia CF – Honda SAG) were joined in the top ten by Italian pair Raffaele de Rosa (Scot Racing) and Roberto Locatelli (Metis Gilera).
An exciting 125cc contest saw Briton Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar) take victory, holding off a strong challenge from Spaniard Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team) on the last lap to take maximum points and the lead in the standings.
After morning rain the track dried relatively quickly and allowed for a highly competitive contest with Smith, Terol and Julián Simón (Bancaja Aspar) pulling away in the second half of the race to fill the podium. Smith eventually crossed the line 0.216 ahead of Terol, with Simón conceding the championship lead as he trailed his Aspar team-mate by seven seconds.
Home star Andrea Iannone (Ongetta Team I.S.P.A.) dropped out due to a technical fault on lap six when in second place, causing disappointment for the crowd, as the Italian’s recent difficult spell continued.
Behind the front three an intriguing fight for fourth place was won by Pol Espargaró (Derbi Racing Team) as Sandro Cortese (Ajo Interwetten) crashed on the last lap, whilst young Spaniard Marc Márquez (Red Bull KTM) finished less then a second behind his compatriot Espargaró in fifth.