2011 Phillip Island MotoGP Sunday Post-Race Round Up - Hail To The New Champion

It is a subject we keep returning to, but Sunday's events at Phillip Island just serve to underline Nicky Hayden's truism on racing. "That's why we line up on Sunday," he said memorably ahead of the final race of the 2006 season, in which he clinched the championship, "you never know what's gonna happen."

There was never any real doubt that Casey Stoner would win the race at Phillip Island on Sunday. The Repsol Honda rider had dominated as usual, topping every session of practice and setting a pace that no one else could follow. Nor was there much doubt that Stoner was on his way to his second MotoGP championship; the Australian had a 40-point lead, and looked certain to pick up more points at Phillip Island, and clinch the title at Sepang. On Saturday, he told reporters that he wasn't thinking about the championship, rating his chances of lifting it on Sunday - on his birthday, at his home race - as very slim indeed.

That all changed in the warm up. Jorge Lorenzo had what looked like an innocent enough crash, which he got up and walked away from, holding his left hand as riders so often do. What was not directly apparent until the Spaniard pulled off his glove was that he was missing a part of his ring finger, ripped from the bone by the handlebars. An excruciating and possibly complicated injury, it was one which potentially could be fixed if he could have surgery as soon as possible. If he didn't have the surgery, there was a chance of losing the function of that finger, and that could have been a problem in the longer term.

Lorenzo chose the surgery - almost certainly strongly encouraged by the circuit doctors - and the championship was in the bag for Stoner. All he had to do was finish 6th, something he could have done by riding 2 seconds a lap slower than he did. If 2011 has taught us anything, it is that riding 2 seconds a lap slower than his usual pace is the only truly impossible task for Casey Stoner.

So Stoner went out and won the race in style, putting on a display of both dry weather mastery - drifting the rear of his RC212V through Turn 3 at 260 km/h, and sliding both ends of the bike over the hill at Lukey Heights - and shrewd race management, when first light drizzle and then heavy rain blew in to the circuit perched on the edge of the Southern Ocean. A couple of big scares saw him back off, enough to keep the bike upright but not so much that he would be gobbled up by his pursuers, going on to take a victory that was a template for his season on the Honda.

The list of things to celebrate is almost bizarrely long. Stoner won the race, on his birthday, clinching the title in the process. In doing so, he became simultaneously just the 5th man ever to take titles on two different makes of bike, joining Geoff Duke, Giacomo Agostini, Eddie Lawson and Valentino Rossi in a motorcycle racing's most elite club. He also moved ahead of Lawson for the number of premier class victories, and is closing in rapidly on Mike Hailwood. He took a clean sweep of the weekend, setting the fastest time in every session, and crowning it with his 5th straight victory at Phillip Island, matching the record of - there's that name again - Valentino Rossi. Taking his 2nd title meant that he also drew level in number of 800cc championships with Rossi, and as he has nearly 50% more 800cc victories than Rossi (32 to Rossi's 21), he has cemented his position as the dominant rider of the 800cc era.

Though Stoner's emotion was much freer and more spontaneous than it has been in a long time, clearly just delighted to be where he is and to be winning in the way that he is, he must also be deriving no small pleasure from having outflanked Rossi so comprehensively. The relationship between the two men is deeply troubled, and a genuine dislike and rivalry exists. When asked recently by Spanish journalist Mela Chercoles who he would like to be world champion this year, Casey Stoner or Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi had to take a long pause, before eventually plumping for Lorenzo. Rossi's dislike of Lorenzo is well-documented, but his dislike of Stoner is much, much greater. The two men are diametrically opposite in everything they do: Stoner is plain-speaking but very private; Rossi is exuberant, a public person, someone who loves being surrounded by people, and always has a witticism at hand to deflect any awkward moments. Rossi loves to race, but he also loves the fans, loves the attention it brings. Casey Stoner would rather turn up at an empty track on Friday, and head home on Sunday after winning the race. Stoner loves and appreciates his fans, but he would be just as happy if nobody came to see him, with the possible exception of his parents and his wife.

But both Stoner and Rossi have a great deal of class. When asked on Sunday night about Stoner's achievement, Rossi was fulsome in his praise, saying that Stoner had done a fantastic job and fully deserved the title. Stoner, in turn, had headed over to the medical center when he heard that Lorenzo was in serious trouble with his finger injury, to express his concern and sympathy for Lorenzo and enquire how he was, exchanging words and messages with the Yamaha staff. Even more to his credit, when the media turned up to ask him what he was doing there, he left without speaking to them, being there to speak to Lorenzo, not the press. His concern marks the relationship between the two men: their rivalry is fierce, and no quarter is either given or asked, but they have a deep mutual respect for each other. To say they are friends is a step too far, but they are certainly friendly rivals.

That rivalry expresses itself in something else, too. After the race, Stoner said that though he was delighted with the title, this was not the way he wanted to take it, preferring to beat Lorenzo to the championship fair and square, rather than have it handed to him by injury. Even then, there can be no dreaded "asterisk" (the mark beloved of those whose favorite rider loses) behind this championship: Nine wins, five podiums and a single DNF spell dominance, and though many have claimed that once again, Stoner has the best bike, he pointedly explained to reporters that "there are three other riders who are on the same bike."

Enough of the accolades, suffice it to say Casey Stoner deserved this title. In his first year on a new bike - albeit a very good one - he and his crew did the business, won when they could, settled for a podium when they couldn't (Stoner also said that the best thing about this year was that when they had a bad day at the office, they still managed to finish in 3rd) and simply brooked no resistance from anyone. He steamrollered his way to the championship, but that can only happen when you are at the top of your game.

The most worrying thing of all, though, was when Stoner was asked whether he would miss the 800s, as he had dominated them so thoroughly. "Definitely not!" he told reporters. "I always preferred the 1000s, and I feel a lot more comfortable on them." That does not bode well for his rivals in 2012.

There is more to talk about from Phillip Island: Marc Marquez' dash through the field, Valentino Rossi's crash, and a possible change to MotoGP's testing regulations, but all that will have to wait for another day. A champion deserves his day in the sun.

Total votes: 234
Total votes: 64

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Dr Krop keeps getting better, like Stoner!

Total votes: 218

A champion deserves his day in the sun.

and rain

and sun

and rain

and sun

and rain

Casey did good

Total votes: 243

Well done David for another excellent writeup, and thanks for your efforts throughout the year - your site makes MotoGP so much more interesting.
And obviously, well done to Casey for a masterful season, just one race off the podium - and that due to being knocked off by someone else. The rider (and crew) made the difference this year, as none of the other Hondas could compete for the win week in week out, as is required to beat someone as good as Lorenzo and his team.
Commiserations but also congratulations to Jorge who fought to the end and once again showed real class. Hope the re-attachment works out and there are no ongoing problems. As pointed out in your story, I find it so refreshing to see the top 3 this year with such rivalry but also respect for one another.

I would like to have a serious whinge about the TV coverage, which seems to be getting worse and worse. I can only remember seeing ONE shot (a replay) of Stoner drifting the bike through hayshed and over Lukey, and I don't recall an external shot of him going through turn three at all (probably one of the most amazing pieces of footage in our sport in many years).
Fair enough watching one guy out front for the whole race does not work, but fans of the sport want to see some vision of the current master of his game, taking it to the level than nobody else can. I wanted to marvel at the flow and precision of his riding, but never got the chance. On the odd occasion they did cross to Stoner they invariably showed only a corner or two, then flipped to that useless bum-cam which shows almost exactly nothing. Would it have been too much to ask to see Stoner for say 1-2 full laps when he was setting his fastest laps?
The scraps down the order were entertaining, but should not come at the exclusion of seeing any footage of the guy doing the business at the front in the process of winning the championship. Instead we get Toni bloody Elias in last place for half a lap, endless shots of hangers-on in the pits, crowd shots, ad-neauseam! I was screaming at the TV in the end. It was the same last year, where Stoner got almost no coverage at all. Very, very frustrating.

Insult compounded injury when the Oz telecast crossed to the F1's without showing the post-race interviews. Come on guys, five more minutes when our boy wins the world title!

Phew! Rant over. :-) Congrats Casey.

Total votes: 242

I was livid when they did that... I left a voicemail for N10 shortly afterwards, and then downloaded the complaint form and sent it off this morning.

Give the coverage back to Foxtel if you can't do it right...

Agree completely regarding the lack of footage of Casey. It was so blatant that a few times I forgot that he was actually on the track. That could have been the orange whips, I suppose : )

Total votes: 234

MotoGP.com has crap bandwidth at times (ok, most of the time) but at least the coverage itself is good enough to almost forgive that issue.

If they could address the over-demand so that the streaming didn't keep switching from HD to lowres over few seconds, then there'd be no contest.

Total votes: 196

Agreed mblive!!
I have been watching the Motogp coverage for 2 years now via streaming. Only because Foxtel lost the coverage and I'm in regional WA that doesn't get OneHD. It has been ok (the steaming) until 3 rnds ago. Now it keeps changing quality from hi-res to low-res continuely. Completely frustrating. I have been emailing Motogp support for weeks now and the email has been back and forth 17 times now. It took until the 8 email before they admitted a problem at the Motogp end. They have asked 3 times for me to supply my OS, browser and browser version - all information that was supplied in my initial email.

I signed up for Motogp feed several years ago but gave it up because of their poor support. Soon as we get OneHD - goodbye Motogp feed - only because of their piss poor service.

Total votes: 234

I was having all the problems you described, but I find if I switch off the Auto Quality and use Platform B the quality is good and it only occasionally stops for a few seconds, you may already do this, but if not hope it works for you too.

Total votes: 208

I agree entirely on your views about Casey's obvious respect for Jorge. I was moved to see him visit the medical centre to check on his condition. A true sportsman and a true champion.

Total votes: 242

I believe he is also the first rider to take a WC in each of his first year with 2 MFGs ??

Total votes: 233

I'd like to just point out that when Casey won his first championship with ducati he had a tshirt made up that listed all of his moto racing heros - the name Valentino Rossi was on that list. It has only been since the obvious threat that Casey posed to Vale's crown was apparent that Rossi put up a figurative wall between them. His comments have been harsh and unnecessary over the last few years, and now he sits down to a slice of humble pie at each race meet. Casey could have torn Rossi a new one in the media this year, but he has chosen the high road and more power to him for it.

For what it's worth I'm a massive long time Rossi fan, but his comments have taken the shine off his persona for me. As an Aussie I've followed Caseys career closely, and always new his raw speed and talent was there and he would be champ. I'm really enjoying the legacy he's making for himself - mostly strengthened by Rossis failings on the duc.

As always another great article David. You're the world champ of motogp journos!

Total votes: 260

Funny how we want the fastest riders to also be likable human beings, as though being able to ride fast was some sort of god-given recompense for moral virtue.

Milos Foreman wrote on that theme about Salieri and Mozart: Salieri was an incredibly generous, virtuous guy, and a good composer. His contemporary Mozart was something of a dissipative, frivolous slob who happened to be a genius. Life is like that.

Total votes: 243

The frequency of riders losing fingers is getting borderline unacceptable. Protective clothing manufactures need to step up their game in the glove department....

Total votes: 226

I agree. Something like the bark-buster or knuckle protector from dirt bikes should suffice. It doesn't have to be huge and heavy. It needs to keep the rider's fingers from getting trapped under the bar. It may bring the additional benefit of preventing the air-stream at top speed from pushing the front brakes on, and preventing a minor touch on the handlebar (against another bike) from slamming the front brakes on, and may even help protect the levers and controls in the event of a small low-side, helping the rider to remount and rejoin the race. It doesn't need to look like the ones on dirt bikes, but it does need to have a strong structural element between the bar and the ground at all positions of steering lock.

Total votes: 219

Steel capped boots protect your toes from light to moderate impacts.
When the force on the boots is extremely large the choice is shattered or severed toes either way your toes are screwed :)

Total votes: 248

But having watched the crash on video, it might have been one of those "either way" crashes. It's not that his hand is stuck under the bike like Criville's at Assen, it looks like the bar made a perfect one-point landing on his finger. Ouch. Scary looking crash all around actually.

Total votes: 224

As someone else posted below, the guys on Mythbusters comprehensively disproved this myth. They were looking at steel-toe safety boots specifically and found that if an extremely heavy load fell on your toes, they would be mashed flat, not severed. The foot would still be destroyed, but not severed.

But thats (very far) besides the point: The load on your boot to achieve this would be massive. Safety boots cannot be expected to protect you from an infinite loading. Below this loading which causes the boots to fail completely, the boots drastically improve your chances of surviving an accident without injury.

You must be thinking of the infamous steel-toe-cap danger boot, a product which has long since been removed from most markets, though clearly not all!

Total votes: 222

what I was thinking of was the analysis of RAF planes during WW2. Initially, subsequent versions were reinforced where damage found on the ones that came home. Subsequently, I think it was RA Fisher who pointed out that what you wanted to strengthen was where the ones that DIDN'T come home had been damaged. Since any reinforcement carried a weight penalty which reduced manoevrability and speed, making them more resistant to damage that didn't cause them to crash was making them more dangerous.

It's a nice example of how "doing the obvious" can be wrong... but I thought it was too esoteric, so I dug out another half-remembered example... that was wrong :)

Anyway, my concern was that adding a protective piece might make it easier for the rider's had to get trapped as the protector bent, or harder for the hand to be knocked harmlessly out of the way.

Total votes: 225

While Nicky may be altruistic, I think what he uttered was a truism :)

Total votes: 206

You are absolutely correct. And so is the sentence now, thanks! Brain fade after getting up so early and working all day long, I think.

Total votes: 234

the crap I write at 3am.

In fact, you may have lol...

However for advanced marks, you might also want to check the dictionary definition of "fulsome", which like the other politician-word "meretricious", differs somewhat from common usage ;-)

Total votes: 251

Stoner's relationship with Rossi is very interesting, because in fact one of the defining features of Stoner's MotoGP career is that he has challenged Rossi head on and comprehensively beaten him. Stoner's superior stats for the 800 period say it all. No-one can ever say that Stoner won against weak opposition, because he has beaten one of the best ever. So while Stoner may dislike Rossi, it is Rossi who has (unwillingly of course) validated Stoner's credentials as a great champion.

Total votes: 236

can be mis-leading..

I don't recall Casey 'comprehensively beating' Rossi in 3 out of 5 800 seasons..You could say Rossi has been beating Stoner 60% of the time?

You could also say that 60% of Stoners wins have come in just 2 seasons..when his bike was clearly superior.

Well done though..I'm happy to support Casey and give praise where it's due.

Total votes: 223

The stats for the 5 years as a whole show that Stoner was clearly superior to Rossi. We also need to look at the context. Rossi had the best bike in 2008/09/10. This is the bike that both Lawson and Rainey described as the best grand prix bike ever built. Stoner was on a Ducati for four of the five years, the same bike that Rossi by his own admission cannot ride. It is highly debatable whether the 2007 Ducati was the best bike, since only Stoner could win with it (yes I know Capirossi had one win, but he gambled correctly in changing conditions). Even the 2011 Honda is apparently only the best bike when Stoner is riding it. In both 2007 and 2011 it was Stoner who was the winning ingredient. Just take a look where Capirossi, Pedrosa, Dovizioso and Simoncelli have placed. No championship for Ducati in 2007 without Stoner, and no championship for Honda in 2011 without Stoner.

Total votes: 230

Its not that Stoner has or has not had the best bike in the grid, rather whatever bike he is riding has always been far and away the best of its breed - 2007-2010 easily the best Duc, 2011 easily the best Honda. No-one else can match his ability to get the most out of a bike over the last 5 years.

(and the 2011 Honda is only 'clearly superior' when he is riding it; Yamaha get another title if Stoner is still at Ducati)

Total votes: 226

and the 2011 Honda is only 'clearly superior' when he is riding it; Yamaha get another title if Stoner is still at Ducati
or perhaps Pedrosa would be winning hte title for Honda if Simo joined casey at Ducati

Total votes: 233

Despite all this talk about "being on the best bike" (as if it took anything away from Rossi golden years at HRC who was piling up titles for a decade before he joined them) the reality is much more simple:

- without Stoner Ducati would have never won a title in MotoGP
- without Stoner Honda would have never won a title in the 800 era, Lorenzo on the Yamaha would have taken it in front of Pedrosa and Dovi, just like last year.

Total votes: 223

MotoGP 2007-2011

World championships
Stoner, Rossi 2
Lorenzo 1

Stoner 33 (38%)
Rossi 21 (24%)
Lorenzo 17 (20% or 25%*)
Pedrosa 13 (15%)

Stoner 57 (66%)
Rossi, Pedrosa 48 (55%)
Lorenzo 44 (51% or 64%*)

Pole positions
Stoner 32 (37%)
Lorenzo 18 (21% or 30%*)
Rossi, Pedrosa 14 (16%)

Points (with 2 races left in 2011)
Stoner 1417 (283/season)
Rossi 1292 (258/season)
Pedrosa 1178 (236/season)
Lorenzo 1094 (274/season*)

*Lorenzo raced 1 season less than the 3 other aliens, his stats from 2008 when he entered MotoGP are far better, in this case he tops Rossi on wins, podiums and pole position rates.

Since 2007 Stoner won basically 4 out of 10 races, 12 more than his closest rival Rossi, as many wins as Rossi and Pedrosa combined.
He ended up on the podium 2 thirds of the time and also has as many poles as Lorenzo and Rossi combined.
He collected 125 more points than Rossi.

Total votes: 231

"Stoner loves and appreciates his fans, but he would be just as happy if nobody came to see him, with the possible exception of his parents and his wife."

Surely the latter part of this line is a bit of journalist licence perpetuating a myth that we read all too often from hacks as some sort of way to either demean Stoner's persona or paint him as the polar opposite of Rossi for the same purpose.

Stoner sure looked like he was enjoying the adulation of the crowd to me. He is a champion that exudes many great qualities to me, modesty and dignity being chief amongst them.

Total votes: 211

The last ten years have seen the rise (again) of celebrity in GP racing. This has drawn some to the sport who may otherwise have not been interested in it. They see a lack of showmanship as a failing. We see people complaining that Stoner doesn't smile enough, that he doesn't celebrate his wins hard enough, as though this type of thing is a compulsory part of the show for some fans. Geez, some even complain that he is boring because he wins too easily. Like it's his fault that the others can't keep up.

Stoner is an old school racer, who worked his way to the top the hard way. He was gifted nothing, and sees no value in celebrity.

He is also humble, and that seems to be confused by some as arrogance. Australians recognise it for what it is, but we often seem to be misconstrued overseas as stand-offish, when really it is just a sign of respectfulness. Similar things have been said about plenty of Aussie's in different sports. Laid back and laconic and often averse to fame. That should not be confused for disinterest. In fact it's the opposite.

Total votes: 258

Well said fanatic. Another great Aussie racer named Mat Mladin taught many of us Americans about this down-under trait.

It took me about 6 months to learn that Mat was a man of his word and not just spouting drivel. Once I learned this he instantly became one of my heros. I haven't always agreed 100% with his point of view but most of the time I do and I at least know that he is being honest and not just blowing smoke.

And, if I am honest, I must admit that I do agree with Mat about 98% of the time. And just like with Mat, I greatly apprreciate Casey's honestly, character, - and fantastic talent.

MotoGP and it's fans can be very proud of this year's champion.

Total votes: 211

To those who've said Casey is boring: OMG go back to your knitting. Casey around Phillip Island is INCREDIBLE.

Even the great Rossi said last year (I think) Casey was on another planet. (And yes Rossi is GREAT for those that seem to have forgotten.

If Casey was a Kiwi, the Aussies would have claimed him as one of their own by now!

Remember to say many times next Sunday GO THE ALL BLACKS (They play the final of the Rugby World Cup next Sunday).

Total votes: 228

`If Casey was a Kiwi, the Aussies would have claimed him as one of their own by now!' I've seen this comment again recently and then, as it is now there seems to be no reasonable segway to make this comment other than to bait an Aussie. .... I guess you hooked me :) I can only assume that if your assertion is correct it is because 1 in 5 Kiwis move to Oz to significantly improve their lives. I guess with so many of you guys over here it becomes a little confusing as to who is and isn't an Aussie ...So if we do claim one of yours as ours please accept our apology because it is a rare commodity indeed to find a successful Kiwi.

Total votes: 234

Bait an Aussie - would I do such a thing. Thats called 'sledging' - wonder where I learnt that!

Any parochialism I had was banished on a recent trip to Argentina. Talking to locals, when asked where I was from: "From New Zealand, Nueva Zelanda" Blank faces. Close to Australia, near Australia. Blank faces.

Oh dear - I knew it happens in the US, but didn't realise "we" (both countries) are a best kept secret.


Total votes: 208

A boring end to another boring season - I respect Casey for his good work during the season but the runaway wins really show the disparity between bikes / riders / whatever - it's really not much of a spectator sport these days.

Maybe next year :)

Total votes: 235

Thank You for proving my previous post correct.

Total votes: 242

Four riders on works spec Hondas, what disparity between bikes? Stoner was 0.8 seconds faster than his team mates in the PI race on equal bikes. If Usain Bolt wins the 100 or 200 meters by a big margin people say he is a great champion. If Stoner wins by a big margin some people are saying it is boring. I understand that people want to see close racing, but if a rider is just that much better than the others than so be it.

Total votes: 228

Dear @fanatic - I was actually talking about the racing itself and not Casey. The point I was making is that if it were more like Moto2 or WSB or whatever (as in more riders within a second of each other at the end of the race) it would be more interesting for the punters to watch. Unfortunately, the runaway wins have become more common during the last couple of seasons and frankly they're boring as hell regardless of who runs away.

I spend around 100 euro's a year to subscribe to the motogp website so I can watch the races live and I generally travel to two races a year in Europe and if it doesn't pick up a bit next year, I'm thinking I might find something else to follow.

Credit where it's due though - Casey did a good job winning the season.

Total votes: 217

I thought the mythbusters busted that myth... heh.

Total votes: 212

With George out of the hunt any armchair cowboy may have expected Stoner to cruise around for points and the title. Not so,like Doohan past,he loves winning.
Oh dear,the clash of persona's. Huge respect between George and Casey has been apparent for a while now on any given podium. A common dislike of Valentino is equally apparent and with just cause. Egomaniac supreme he has proven to be over the years. More common ground between George and Casey is that the pair of them toppled him fair and square on level kit for 1/4 financial reward. Poignant point of the weekend was Casey commiserating with George. Sure, its not the way Stoner wanted to win the title, but you just know that had it happened in the race, Rossi would have highlighted it on an Assen 100 win banner. The reason Rossi would have opted for Lorenzo to retain the title is so obvious. Stats. 2nd title on 2nd manufacturer kit launches Stoner four square into his comfort zone along with.....you 've named 'em.
Stats and damn lies.Take your pick. Stoner minus 2007 won 13 races for Ducati in 800 era.
The rest...1 win. Admirable effort and well done. It is really sad that Lorenzo went out the way he did. Is it ? I think not. Game as hell. Much respect and I'm glad Stoner acknowledged it so well.

Total votes: 236

First of all, congratulations to Casey, though I never liked the guy(attitude) but always knew that he has got lot of talent, especially when I used to watch qualifying of earlier seasons I always used to say to my friends, " just wait for Casey, he will come, will do 2 or 3 laps and will take pole position". This year Casey has proved that he was more deserving to be champion than anyone else out there.

As far as close racing is concerned, it depends all upon the fastest rider, how he wants to race. Stoner loves breaking away from the crowd. When I play Motogp on my laptop, I do the same. When Rossi was in his prime he could have done the same, but he enjoyed close racing and that is why he used to play with other riders many times. I don't remember exactly where I read, or may be I'm totally wrong, but I read somewhere, that Rossi once said, fans come to watch good racing and he wants to give that to the fans.

Total votes: 218

Sorry mate but tooling about amidst the also-rans before clearing off at the end is not close/good racing, it's more like showboating - think Muhammad Ali swinging his fist in circles and prancing about.
Congratulations to Stoner and his crew for a championship gained through total domination of the competition, and for the absence of self-aggrandisement along the way.
All the best to Lorenzo, he knew what was coming but fought strongly all season to defend his title like a champion should.

Total votes: 209

The title went to the deserved champion, that is beyond reproach.

I just hope that, if Stoner gets to be the new total dominant force for the next coming years, like some are predicting (biggest talent atm, on the top seat of "all-conquering" Honda), that at least the story for next seasons get's to be much different to Doohan's (by far, the most uncompetitive, unbalanced, cold and boring era of racing in the top class of GP's that I can remember).

Much more than any of the Rossi/Honda years, or even the 2007 title of Stoner/Ducati, this year brought huge reminiscense to that era, be it from the way the champion did/does his job, be it from the evergrowing disparity of performances all over the grid (huge steps between riders, totally predictable results, etc).
Difference is, money was flowing freely for everybody in the Doohan's years - it isn't now.

Total votes: 224

Difference is, money was flowing freely in the Doohan's years - it isn't now.

I think overall standards and costs were much lower. Find some detail photos of the bike Roberts Jr won the title on: it looks like something bent up and welded in a well equipped garage, rather than the hewn-from-solid, better than production finish of the current bikes (and that includes the FTR, Suter etc etc chassis in Moto2). I remember rumours of about 1M€ for the lease on an NSR500, the most expensive of the lot.

If you were really hair shirt, the NSR500V twin was about $140K: you could get a dozen of them for the cost of the budget Suter-BMW CRT option. You could have filled the PI grid with them, plus a set of spares in the garage, for less than the lease on a single Ducati (and you could flog them off on ebay afterwards).

As someone else said, it was a bubble: the more money that was available in the boom years, the more the teams got used to spending it on luxuries that came to be seen as essential.

Total votes: 190

Yeah, and that's the irony of it.
The 500cc strokers delivered a really decent show for well over 2 decades for a fraction of the current costs, yet money was easyer to get (much easier sponsorship), fuel/oil was cheaper, technology/mechanisms were much simpler (and more effective per ratio in comparison to the 4-strokes), privateer project efforts were abundant, etc.

Now you have to spend a small country's fortune just to make it "bearable" and simply make the grid numbers... in an age where the echonomy is sinking faster than Stoners RCV goes over the line.
Pretty pathetic.

That "all-conquering" brand certainly didn't guess the world economy would go tits up, or that the luxuries in the paddock would become so necessarily "fashion" (oh, the beautifull people) but a huge thanks goes to them for killing the strokers, then indirectly making it harder for everybody with pressures for consecutive changes in the rules, not just in the main GP class but in the other two classes as well.

...good luck Casey, remember to send a "thanks" card to your current bosses when, in about a decade's time -if that much- you end up riding in a full grid of blasé CRT's (or whatever last resort solution by then).

Total votes: 228

It always makes me laugh when people say they dont like stoners attitude, or dont like him as person or whatever.
I cant see how you can know someone that you've never met and watch talking on tv for what, 10 minutes ever other week. but then again maybe i'm just not as good a judge of character as some people...
If you dont like his workman like approach to racing, then fair enough...hardly a character flaw tho is it?

by the way im just using stoner as an example, im sure this goes for most celebrities... we love to make our minds up about these people from the comfort of your couches

Total votes: 236

I've been eating paint chips and meditating all day to come up with the top 4 in the championship for 2012.

Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi

16 bikes on the grid.

Total votes: 225

Watching Stoner lift the front wheel over the crest between T2 and T3 then slide the rear through T3 every lap of qualifying, leaving 30m black trails behind him at times, was amazing. Hayden was the only other rider getting the rear to break loose regularly.

It was sad that injury removed Lorenzo from the race, as only he and Stoner seem to be comfortable attacking T3. Everyone else looked tentative by comparison. It would have been great to see if Lorenzo could push Stoner in the race.

Its hardly surprising that Stoner is looking forward to the larger capacity bikes given his riding style. Ill be expecting even larger winning margins.

Total votes: 212

Yep... the move to 1000cc plays right into Stoner's hands. Nicky should benefit as well. Probably Spies too.

Those who grew up on 125's and 250's might not come to grips with them quite so quickly. Stoner has already proved that turning down the electronics and steering with the rear is the secret to speed, and the 1000's will just allow him to do this even more.

Hopefully Simo adapts quickly. We need him at the top and the Italians need a new hero.

I'm tipping Dani will struggle on the 1000's and he may find himself out of a ride at the end of next year. The bigger bikes won't suit his body size unfortunately.

Total votes: 212

Is this the same Dani Pedrosa who graduated to the fire breathing RCV990 in 2006, won a couple of races on debut and was in the title hunt almost down to the wire?
Nah he's no good and will never cope with the litre bikes.

Total votes: 222

I agree, Pedrosa will adapt. Racing fans and the media often underrate him. He's tough too, having suffered a lot of bad injuries and bounced back. Simoncelli will have to step things up significantly before Pedrosa's spot is in jeopardy.

Total votes: 200

Simoncelli isn't exactly threatening Pedrosa's seat.
With 2 podiums in 2 seasons he has a long long way to go before he can even think about it.
Dani averages at 10 podiums and 2-3 wins by season.
Even in his rookie year...on a 990.

Total votes: 198

Everyone will be able to powerslide the 1000cc bikes with their surfeit of power and torque. With 800cc bikes Stoner has been able to gain an advantage by (masterfully) sliding the peaky 800s and quickly heating the Bridgestones. The trick with the litre bikes will be putting all that power and torque to the ground while conserving the tyres. Pedrosa is exceptionally good at standing the bike up and getting enormous traction while firing the bike out of the corner with a minimum of fuss. But those like Stoner who are comfortabe riding a sliding bike will should be faster when the tyres have gone off towards the end of the race. But Stoner's strength is he can ride both ways when he needs to.

Total votes: 198

I doubt any of us knows what will turn out to be the fast way to ride the new bikes: given the change in electronics and fuel limits, the 990's don't provide any real guide.

Similarly with the comments that the Ducati will do better because the bigger engine will favour point & squirt riding: on a bike with a dodgy front-end it might, but it may be faster to ride another bike in the 800 style.

To extend Nicky's aphorism: that's why they're going to turn up and race next year. And it will be fascinating.

And if despite the new engines, the possible riding style changes, the CRT bikes with the contrast between FTR and Suter and both against the full prototypes, and the ongoing Ducati soap-opera psycho-drama and the breath-taking way the fast guys will ride all of them... if someone out there is still bored, please just clear off and get into competitive marrow-growing.

Total votes: 200

Pedrosa should do ok on the 1000, but his biggest problem is his world champion team mate. 2012 is tailor made for Stoner. With his ability to adapt to new conditions faster than anyone else, and his ability to powerslide the bike like no-one else, Stoner could be near untouchable.

But in any case, Stoner and Lorenzo are a step above the rest of the field. 2011 made that clear, and expect more of the same in 2012.

Total votes: 191

Congratulations to Casey on winning a championship in style.
Special mention must be made of his crew led by Cristian Gabbarini who out-tuned his Honda teammates despite still learning their way around the bike during the season.
Jorge's title defence was valiant if futile in the end. I think we can expect another strong battle between these two next year. They have proven themselves a step above the competition this year.
A big surprise was Dani's inconsistency and you have wonder if he is still not 100%.

Now for the return to the 1000s. Can't wait!

Total votes: 224

I'd like to see an article in the off season that profiles everybody in Stoner's pitbox. Who are they? How long have they been together? Strengths. Character. Stuff like that. Stoner did his part, but he must've had some real talent and leadership inside that pitbox.

Total votes: 217

There has been a quick video to introduce the members of various teams over the season on the website. They did one of Stoner's Honda team. Funny enough they're all Italians.

Total votes: 224

that Stoner (Aussi) has a largely Italian crew and Rossi (Italian) has a largely Aussi crew, especially when communication between rider and team is invariably cited as being essential to success. I guess it's just a reflection of their respective career paths.

I seem to remember that Jerry Burgess was considering a switch to Honda to crew chief for Stoner in the interval between Rossi defecting to Ducati and JB doing the same. How far discussions went I've no idea, or even if it was just talk to create some leverage in negotiations; but JB's reputation as a king-maker would have been strengthened again if he'd made a different choice.

It would be very interesting to know from JB how much influence he and Rossi have in strategic decisions like the frame choices; or whether he and Rossi just list the symptoms of the disease that's afflicting the 2011 bike(s) and just test the factory's efforts of a cure.

Total votes: 222

Stoner and Gabbarini have obviously forged an excellent working relationship. I think it takes time for a crew chief to understand a particular riders feedback from words, gestures facial expressions and interpret that into tangible machine adjustments. Stoner and his boys have this understanding and bond. As does (did?) Rossi, Burgess and crew.

Burgess had his chance around 2006/2007 to link up with Stoner. His dismissive comments regarding Stoner and Gabbarini since then have subsequently burnt that potential bridge to a cinder.

Total votes: 228

I know I have come in late on this, but David is closer than most to seeing how Stoner reacts to fame, re: "Stoner loves and appreciates his fans, but he would be just as happy if nobody came to see him, with the possible exception of his parents and his wife." Here's a vignette: at Tullamarine Airport on October 12, a thin, long-legged young woman walks into a rental car agency, picks up some papers and tells the booking clerk she will get her husband to sign them. She then goes outside where a thin bloke with a cap pulled down over his eyes is waiting with luggage. She hands him the papers, he signs them, then she takes them back inside to pick up the car keys. While this is going on, a tall bespectacled Italian walks in with a young man and a woman. The young man has a mop of curly hair. They speak voluably in Italian while their car gets sorted. Then a small chap with finely chiselled facial features comes in. He is wearing torn jeans and looks for all the world like the average young traveler. He is Randy De Puniet, the mop-haired Italian is Marco Simoncelli (neither of them known to the booking clerks by the looks of it). The bloke outside is Casey Stoner. When Adriana has gone, her booking clerk turns to her colleague and says, "he's really shy, isn't he!" She has recognised the name on the paper work.
So it is not an act. This is just the way the kid is. Enjoy him for his racing and read the women's comics for all the other phoney stuff so many people seem to crave these days.

Total votes: 191