Settling An Argument: Casey Stoner Talks Electronics And Sliding The Front At Phillip Island

If there is one rider who somehow manages to generate debate among MotoGP fans, it is Casey Stoner, almost all of it completely undeserved. After the Phillip Island round, controversy raged again across internet forums about Stoner's dominant victory at his home Grand Prix, centering on two subjects: Whether Stoner had switched the electronics off entirely for the Phillip Island race, and whether or not Stoner was sliding both front and rear round the track, or just the rear.

To settle the argument, we went straight to the horse's mouth, and cornered Casey after the pre-event press conference at Estoril. Here's what the Marlboro Ducati rider had to say about the race at Australia: There's a lot of talk going around that you switch the electronics off at Philip Island. You always use less electronics than most of the other riders, so can you explain exactly what did happen? 

Casey Stoner: No, we definitely didn't switch them off. I mean, if I switched them off, my electronics guy would have an absolute heart attack! He wouldn't let me do it. So, no, we didn't switch them off, but we always have them at quite a low level, anyway, so we just turned them down. In the race I really had to take it easy, because we knew that tire consumption and fuel consumption is an issue, so I wasn't able to really push as much as I wanted to. We knew we had some reserve anyway, you know. We spent that whole race just being, just preserving basically, preserving tires, make sure I didn't make any mistakes, and preserving fuel.

MM: The other question is, it seems like you are sliding both tires during the race, especially going over the Lukey Heights and down into MG. Is this still the most efficient way to actually slide the front up over there?

CS: Basically, it is just because it goes uphill so steep and then it just flattens out really quickly, so basically it just carries you over to the right. A lot of people will back it off as you're coming over that section and keep it, but it has never been dangerous to me. It has always just flowed over there.

MM: Right. And is it because of the flow of that corner that you can sort of push wide and then put it in the right place for MG.

CS: MG, if you are going from the outside to the inside, there is a bump anyway. So for me, I go out and make sure I stay on the inside of the track and turn it in.

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If Stoner was 'preserving' fuel and tyres and wasn't able to push as he really wanted to, I think it would be demoralising for everybody else if he really decided to have a go. It puts Lorenzo's conclusion that he wasn't going to be able to catch him in perspective..

It is going to be a spectacular race the day Casey Stoner gets taken in a fair fight at Phillip Island. Good stuff Dave. Stuff like this really pushes over the edge how awesome this site is.

Awesome stuff David, takes all the guessing from from the fans. I'm a Rossi fan but Casey does an awesome good job when he's rolling. I wonder what he'd b like 2 ride a bike that's so smooth like the M1 without having to worry about dropping it, he'd just roast all their corns.

Well, it's obvious he was preserving something...  ;-)

2010:  41'09.128

2009:  40'56.651

2008:  40'56.643

2007:  41'12.244

He had the fastest first lap - by far - and was already backing down at 1/3 distance.  After that point, Lorenzo gained back .1 second only two times the rest of the race.

So, the logical question...  Did he really need to save fuel?

It's interesting to consider that as much as we like to think of these riders doing battle with each other each week that the only time it happens is during the very intense battles like we saw with Rossi and Hayden or Lorenzo. The rest of the time it's a battle between the rider and the rapidly expiring machine. No wonder they scamper off at the front when ever they can. Their intense battle is enough with just running their own race against the clock and their machine that's about to turn into a pumpkin.

Don't forget it was horrendous weather all weekend and even by race time it was still very cold and windy. I didn't make it to 08 or 09, but this year was the worst weather I can remember at the Island, comparable to the 1992 WSBK/6-hour endurance world championship when many of the marshals were taken to hospital with hypothermia. Race times cannot be directly compared from year to year in such wildly varying weather conditions. TV has a way of averaging out the weather, as long as it's sunny it always looks great, but it was still very much less than ideal conditions at the Island this year even by race time.

Bravo David!
It's clear that Stoner using less electronics than other drivers, this is clearly shown by his ride. He always sliding.

I'm not a huge Stoner fan but I love to see him ride Phillip Island. He completely owns that track in a natural way. I don't honestly care specifically what he's doing there, I just like to be able to watch.

I absolutely love it when riders (and drivers) talk about the nuances of any given track, I soak it up like a sponge! I think I'll have to try out his advice in iRacing, sometime...
Thanks for the investigation, David.

Thanks for digging deeper into the abyss of rumors in MotoGP. Somehow you took the initiative and got us a great quick response from Stoner. While I am a dedicated Rossi fan I cannot dispute the massive skill Stoner displays on track. That was an impressive race from Stoner even if Lorenzo wasn't able to battle.

Who thinks Stoner was telling the truth?
And who thinks he was shading things a bit in order to psych out his opponents?

Wow, you mean he's been able to sort out the Ducati set-up problems, blitz P.I. AND develop a set of media manipulation skiills he's never had in the past, all in the same few weeks? I think you suggest more capability than truly exists there..

One degree of separation. This feels like the most direct way I have ever been talking to Stoner ;)

That is one of the things I appreciate about Casey; ask him a straight question and you'll generally get a straight answer. Even if the answer doesn't necessarily accord with the 'wisdom' that is in general currency on Internet forums (not here, of course).

I love the way my Aussie heros (Mat, Casey and others) just tell it like it is. No fluff. Like it or not, they tell it like they see it - and 99% of the time I agree totally with what they say.

I like the comment about saving the tires because they are a resourse that has a limitation and need to be managed. But I hate that racers in the premier motorcycle series in the world have to worry about having enough fuel. This should not be!

Great interview David - and much appreciated.

Im not a huge gearhead, so I don't really know the specifics. Yet, if you give them more gas, wouldn't engineers just make the bike go faster? Unless there is some sort of saturation point where having more fuel doesnt really matter, it stands to reason that the amount of fuel you allocate makes a negligible difference.

I suppose that there is always the rule of unlimited fuel. At which point wouldnt size and weight be a limiting commodity for the perk of finishing a race with excessive fuel?

I find it amazing that these guys are masters of squeezing every ounce of grunt from these machines.. fuel limitations included.