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MOTOGP NEWS 

Stoner praises Ducati's turnaround

Casey Stoner on the Catalunya podiumCatalan Grand Prix winner Casey Stoner said he feared before the race weekend that Ducati would struggle at the Spanish track as they had at Mugello a week earlier.

The championship leader could only manage fourth in Italy, and was concerned after Friday practice that he would struggle to reach the podium in Barcelona as well.

But changes to the Ducati's set-up in final practice transformed the bike, and he was able to beat Valentino Rossi to victory in a spectacular race today.

"Going into this weekend we couldn't decide how this weekend was going to go, because in Mugello we had a few problems and we thought we might have the same problems here," said Stoner.

"On Friday here we definitely weren't exactly on the pace - we were losing a lot in a couple of areas.

"Fortunately the team worked really hard and came up with a solution on Saturday morning, and since then we've kept the bike exactly the same.

"The whole team's done a great job this weekend and proved people wrong that we can't win on European tracks."

He believes the lessons learnt at Catalunya could prove useful for the British GP at Donington Park in a fortnight.

"We can go there with another positive attitude because we know that if we run into similar problems that he did at Mugello, we'll know what to do now," said Stoner.

"We're always learning and gaining experience with this bike, which I suppose is one of the only new bikes in the MotoGP class this year. Everything's completely different and we're still learning, but it's all going forward."

Stoner reckoned the Bridgestone-shod Ducati's performance under braking was crucial in his battle with Rossi, as the title rivals passed and repassed each other repeatedly in the second half of the race.

"We had some nice passing manoeuvres going on everywhere," he said. "I knew our bike was set-up quite well for the braking points, and for Valentino to pass us he had to run wide normally and we were able to pass him back immediately a lot of the time.

"The way the team set the bike up has been fantastic. The Bridgestones have been great again this weekend, and on a circuit where they've struggled in the past. They've really changed things around for everyone."

Despite extending his championship lead back up to 14 points, Stoner insisted he would not consider the points situation until later in the year.

"Today was another great race for us but I'm still not thinking about the championship," he said.

"Maybe in the latter part of the season we can really start to aim at that, but for now it's just been perfect and I'm just going to continue with the way I've been going."

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