Casey Stoner cruised almost unchallenged to victory in the Czech Republic Grand Prix after teammate Dani Pedrosa crashed out of the lead early on. Surprisingly, championship rival Jorge Lorenzo also suffered as his decision to run the hard front tyre, with almost everyone else opting for the extra hard.
The decision looked pretty smart in the early stages as the Yamaha rider scythed past Pedrosa into the lead at turn four on the opening lap. Like his teammate, Stoner also lost ground at the start with Andrea Dovizioso taking third. Normal service was resumed at the start of the next lap though as the Australian eased past.
Pedrosa retook the lead from Lorenzo at the same point on lap three with the world champion lucky to stay upright as the front end of the bike washed out. Pedrosa encountered a similar lack of grip two corners later but wasn't lucky enough to catch it and a potential victory disappeared into the gravel trap.
Repsol Honda did at least see the lead shift to Stoner, who followed his teammate past Lorenzo after the Yamaha rider's wobble moments earlier. Any hopes of a close fight for the win quickly faded as Stoner stormed into the distance while Lorenzo was forced on the defensive.
First to take the challenge to him was Dovizioso who eased past into turn one on the fifth lap. Lorenzo's confidence appeared to have been dented by his near-accident earlier on and he quickly came under pressure from a third factory Honda in Marco Simoncelli. Shortly after half distance, the Gresini rider seized the initiative as Lorenzo ran wide at turn seven. Third place was Simoncelli's and the long-awaited first podium was looming on the horizon.
Fortunately for Lorenzo, the next rider in his wake was teammate Ben Spies who gave him protection from the Ducati of Valentino Rossi. Any thoughts Rossi had of challenging his former teammate were put on hold as the Suzuki of Alvaro Bautista piled in the pressure. The Spaniard, the only other rider to choose the same front tyre compound as Lorenzo, looked on target for a challenge on “The Doctor” but a fall at turn 14 six laps from home put paid to those plans.
At the front, Casey Stoner eased to victory with Dovizioso only getting to within six seconds of his team leader. Marco Simoncelli finally put a complete weekend together to take a popular third, ended his podium drought.
The two factory Yamahas of Lorenzo and Spies finished line astern in fourth and fifth with Rossi chasing them home in sixth. Nicky Hayden confirmed Ducati's improved performance with seventh after holding off Colin Edwards and Hiroshi Aoyama.
Cal Crutchlow looked on target for a top ten finish as he made progress in the early laps. Sadly for the Briton, he wouldn't see the chequered flag again as he lost the front end of his YZR-M1 on lap seven. Home favourite Karel Abraham also slid off the track and his nightmare weekend came to an end when his Ducati engine later blew up.
Lap Leaders (22 Laps):
Lorenzo (1-2), Stoner (3-22)