Stoner overjoyed with home victory
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, October 14th 2007, 06:18 GMT|
Casey Stoner described his Australian Grand Prix victory as the best win of his ultra-successful 2007 season.
The world champion came home seven seconds ahead of his Ducati teammate Loris Capirossi at Phillip Island to clinch his ninth win of the year in front of a delighted sell-out crowd.
"Being up there on the podium was just unbelievable," said Stoner. "I've been working very hard for a lot of years trying to win this race, even if the rest of the season hasn't gone so well.
"But this season's just been magical for us. We've been able to clinch the championship before this race and we came here with a lot less pressure - I really could enjoy this race. It was definitely my best victory so far."
He paid tribute to his home supporters, who were able to cheer the first Australian victory at Phillip Island since Mick Doohan's 1998 win.
"I have to thank the Australian fans for coming down to see all of us Australian riders," Stoner said. "This is by far the biggest crowd I've seen in Australia. I hope they've had a lot of fun and I really appreciate it."
Nicky Hayden put Stoner under a great deal of pressure in the opening laps, but the Honda rider eventually dropped off the pace and then retired after 12 laps, allowing Stoner to dominate the second half of the GP.
He revealed that he had gone into the race with an untried Bridgestone compound and had been unsure whether his tyre choice would last the full distance.
"We didn't really know what to expect," Stoner told the BBC. "The tyres that we ran in the warm-up were not so much different to the ones I ran in the race, but they weren't going to be able to last the distance.
"So we actually went with a tyre that we hadn't really tested before the race. We just took a gamble, we've got nothing on the line at the moment, and it was a lot of fun.
"I didn't think this season could get a lot better, but it just has today."