Honda Press Release: Interview With Casey Stoner

The Honda PR machine continues to work overtime, producing yet another interview, this time with MotoGP championship leader Casey Stoner. Once again, they have excelled themselves, producing a frank and interesting interview that does not sound like it has been through the corporate sanitization process that so many team press releases seem to generate. In it, Stoner talks about the development of the 1000cc 2012 Honda MotoGP machine, how the 1000s might change the racing next year, and how he works with his pit crew to find a setup. An interesting read.

Below is the Honda press release:


CASEY STONER INTERVIEW

Casey Stoner is the most successful rider of the 800cc era. Since the 800cc motors were introduced at Qatar in 2007, where Stoner celebrated his first premier class victory, through last weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, Stoner had won 27 races. The majority came in 2007, when he collected ten race victories en route to the 2007 MotoGP World Championship.

With a brilliant start to this season, the 25-year-old Australian has continued to add to his tally. Through the first eight races Stoner has four wins, a second, and two thirds. The only time he's failed to finish on the podium was at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez when he was knocked out of second place early in the race.

Stoner has been called the fastest rider by a number of his peers, including team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. His five poles in eight races bear that out. But now that the 800cc era is drawing to a close, we thought we'd get Stoner's thoughts on the move to the 1000cc era.

Can you explain, using a specific corner, the difference in cornering technique with the Repsol Honda RC212V and next year's machine?

It's really hard to explain, because there's basically no two corners in the world that are the same. So to ride them in the same way, I think, may be what sets me apart sometimes from other riders, is the fact that I'll attack each corner the way it needs to be ridden. There'll be different patches, different surfaces in different areas. And sometimes the ideal line won't be the ideal line on that particular corner, so it's adapting yourself to each part of the track, whether you can use part or you can't. How you've got to get through each corner is quite difficult. At each track you go to you can't just ride in the method that you know and you've actually got to ride it to the way it needs to be ridden. It sometimes can be a bit tricky. With the 1000 I think it's going to be a little less dependent on that sort of riding, because you're going to be able to make up a little bit of power. But at the same time, just concentrate more on getting out of the corner, rather than getting through it quite as fast. It's still going to very dependent on getting through the corner, but I think more in getting into the corner and getting out of the corner than those lines in that particular area than we had on 800s on the way through the corner. It'll change the way people ride a little bit.

Will it change the way the race is run?

Yes and no. I'm not really sure. I think the way 1000s were beforehand, there was still a tyre battle and there was a tyre battle for the first part of 800s, which produced some great races and passes back and forth and all the rest of it. Now with 1000s, it's not going to be a lot of difference. I've ridden the 1000 again and I went from 1000 to 800 and there wasn't huge differences. The main thing you notice is in the higher gears, fourth, fifth on the 800, you basically don't have a lot of power to spin, so when you spin you've got to be on the edge of the tyre. But with the 1000 you're still able to spin, even when you pick the bike up it's still trying to spin a little bit. That part will be slightly different when you're riding in the wet in different situations. I also think the way you control wheelies is going to be a little bit different. The 1000 is going to want to pop wheelies through more gears rather than what the 800 does, in second and third, sometimes fourth. But a 1000 will want to pull a wheelie in just about every gear, so you're going to have to control that a little bit more. But other than that, riders will adapt to the way it needs to be ridden. The people that are up at the front are there for a reason and they'll adapt quickly.

Some riders believe that with more torque, you may be able to make a pass off a corner. And also with more top speed it'll change the brake markers, and most of the passes are done on the brakes now. Will it open up passing opportunities?

I think it's not the bikes that are reducing the passing, I think it's just become such a professional sport that riders don't make mistakes like they used to. Everyone has to train their butts off now just to ride these bikes. In the past, if you go back long enough, people were smoking before they got on the grid and they weren't tired at the end of the race. These bikes physically take a lot more out of you. And I think the level of rider, in comparison with another era, has just picked up, because everyone knows what you need to do now. And so you're not seeing people run wide and other people duck up in the inside. They're making the line, they're hitting their points, and they're not having the problems like they used to. So, I don't really think it's going to change a lot. Even Dani (Pedrosa) on the same bike as me is able to out-accelerate me just because of the way he rides. So that strength is his. But then he's got some weaknesses in his way of riding. So there's a lot of different ways to ride, different techniques to use, but I think racing in general was always going to develop and go in this direction. Even in motocross, you're struggling to see people pass each other any more. There seems to be one line in motocross. Everyone's getting it that right. You have to go out on a limb to pass and do something and take a line that no one else can do or hasn't tried or is unexpected. But it's a big risk. It's the same in MotoGP. You have to take a big risk to get past now, because motorsport has just gone that little bit further. The way people ride has become that more developed that I think it's just the way to the future. Younger kids than us will come through and do stuff that we hadn't even dreamed of, so it's going to be the same sort of thing.

How does the 1000 compare to the 990 from 2006?

It's more or less the same, I think. It's got more grunt. Like I said, when I went from 1000 back to 800, I didn't notice a huge difference, just a slight difference, especially in the taller gears, because you couldn't put that power done quite as much anyways, but the 800's still got plenty to spin up and there's only so much you can put down. So, yeah, getting back on the 1000 was very similar to what I had. You're carrying that speed a bit more down the straight, you're able to say run a taller gear, because that you got that much torque down the bottom. So you can ride it in a few different options. Rather than with this option, you can still run it in those options, but in the higher gears you'll be able to play around with it a bit more.

You seem to be able to get on the gas sooner than most riders. It was noticeable in the first turn in Qatar, where you could get off the gas and back on faster than anyone else. Is that one of your strengths?

I have no idea, to be honest. It's difficult to know unless you're looking at data what your strengths and weaknesses are and that of other people. I very rarely or ever look at data unless my team tell me I can do something a little better here or there. If I feel that I don't know where I'm losing the time, then they'll show me. But we basically never do that. I always know where I need to improve, where I need to get better. Turn one in Qatar, I don't know. I normally feel quite good on that corner. Since being with Honda, I've got a lot more feedback than what I had with Ducati and I immediately felt better. And, yeah, I was able to crack the gas open quite early I guess and, yeah, that helped me drive through the corner rather than try and take the big wide line, and wide sweep through it.

Other riders believe your corner entry speed is off the charts. Do you feel the front end of the Honda allows you to do it with more confidence?

With the Honda I've definitely got a lot more confidence in the front end. Not always, but when we've got it working right then we know what it's doing. If it does go, it normally gives you a bit more of a warning as well. The whole chassis will flex in a different way. You'll feel the front go and you'll be able to pull it back. And so it's quite refreshing to be on a Honda this year and be able to push into corners. I know that when the front does go it's pretty much going to give me a warning first and that's something easier for me to live with because I'm able to pick up the bike a bit quicker and stay upright. My corner entry used to be one of my weakest points. When I arrived, my first year in MotoGP, 250 and 125 period, my braking point was one of my worst. So now I've made it one of my best and being able to trail brake all the way in and get the bike turned in the middle. I've worked on a lot of things that I knew I needed to get my weak points stronger. I think the best thing you can be as a rider is admitting where you're weaker and working on those areas rather than just blaming other things and blaming your equipment.

What are you working on now?

That's for me to know. That's something race by race, weekend by weekend you work on whatever area you're struggling through the most or what you need to work on. Corner by corner it's different on every track, so you need to work on those areas. Braking was one of my biggest weakness, but it was a big weakness compared to the rest of my riding. So really concentrated on that, getting the right set-up, getting a better feel for it and it became one of my strongest. I haven't really got a big weak point now, not like I was with braking, so now I can just sort of work on all of them to try and balance it out as much as I can.

Phillip Island is your favorite track.

It's very similar to Mugello, really, and Brno. It's fast, flowing. I don't really like turn one because of all the bumps on the inside, but the rest of the track's quite smooth, but it flows and it's got uphill, downhill. There's that many different things to it. And on a MotoGP bike, you can really open that thing up for a long time in a lot of places and that's rare these days. On a 125 it was too boring for me, even on a 250 it was open too long. There was nothing happening. But with a MotoGP bike you can really get that throttle open and wind it out a bit. And that's what's exciting for me. Gets the adrenaline pumping a bit more. There's a few corners there that you're able to slide through in some pretty high gears and some pretty high corner speeds. So it's just a lot of fun for me. The way the banking camber, everything goes, it's really a nice to track. It's like a roller coaster. Yeah, you're able to ride these bikes a bit faster.

A number of riders had front tyre problems at Assen and Mugello. One explanation was too much trail braking. Do you find it has an effect on front tyre wear?

It depends on the bike set-up. Depends how much weight's on it. So you'll go into the corner and normally my bike's set up a little bit more so it releases the front a little bit earlier. We've got a bit stiffer springs in, maybe. So I'm able to go into corner a long way and I have to, to be honest, to get the bike to turn, keep that bike weighted and loaded. And if you don't you've got to have a bike that when you release the brake it doesn't want to release so much. So it's still got all that weight on the front but just in a different way. It's something strange. I think Andrea (Dovizioso) had it quite bad on his bike (in Assen) and he pushes the front in very, very hard. Some area I guess he likes to work on a lot. I prefer to stay a little more balanced. But he puts a lot of presser on that front and I guess that sort of buckled as well. Even my tyre during that race, I was coming out, as soon as I cracked the gas and got a little bit of weight off it, the bike was just skipping and moving everywhere. And didn't feel good in general. It's different techniques, different ways you load the tyre and different set-ups that you use to benefit your technique and that's exactly why just about no two riders can use the same set-up, because they have to use different ones because they have a different way of riding.

Andrea (Dovizioso) believed your riding styles were similar, but soon saw everyone was different.

I'll never even try and think that two riders are the same. Every rider I've ever been around has their own technique and their own way to gain speed. So, that's something that I disagree a lot with rider coaches and things like that that are trying to bring speed in a different direction. Each rider has their own potential and should be brought out by themselves and trying to nurture their own speed rather than trying to bring speed out by their way which isn't natural and it's something you got to think about. And if you start going 'What set-up's he got? I want that,' it's not going to work. You've got to basically find your own set-up and that's why we don't look at anybody else's. We'll look at it occasionally when I'm losing in one or two corners and need to know why, but that's the only bit I'll ever look at. I never look at set-up sheets or anything like that, because we know we ride differently to everyone else and everyone else rides differently to each other, so you've got to find your own way.

With such differences among your styles, how does that drive the development of what's going to be the base package for the 1000?

I think it's actually a strong point to have more people testing the bike. I think there's a massive misconception that somebody should develop the bike for them, because sometimes they've got weaknesses they're going to create in that bike and not be able to have it as a good all-around package. So I think the more people that ride it, not necessarily the more people, but the more top riders that give more information about it-maybe one rider's stronger and has got more sensitivity in one area of that bike that they're able to put their input into than another-then I think it all comes together and they do a great job to make a balanced bike and then you can go your own separate ways. But it's mainly just chassis stiffness like that. we can change geometry quite a lot ourselves, but it's chassis stiffness, the way things feel, positions. I think having more data from more different directions is going to be a better way.

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Total votes: 65

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Comments

Thank god for Stoner ... thanks to his interviews fans can really pick up a thing or two where they would normally be left in the dark.

Awesome stuff.

Total votes: 151

Get out your kneepads, fans!

Total votes: 153

Stoner is so frank and honest. And normal. I am more of a fan of his every time I hear or read one of his interviews.

Hes the most spectacular to watch on track (I could watch him ride round on his own, torturing bridgestones and HRC parts in equal measure) and hes the most honest and fair in interviews. He gives his own opinions, gives credit to his crew, doesn't try to be a poet like a lot of other racers and his preference for safe, clean racing over "big balls, no brains" racing is refreshing and admirable.

Something I was thinking about recently, Stoner riding in MotoGp & Moto2, since they use Honda engines also. Try to get the double ala Freddie Spencer '85. Hes the only guy capable of doing it IMO and would get some interest back into the sport. Just a thought..

Total votes: 171

Another rule... pretty sure they banned riders from competing in any more than one class. Freddie will be the last milti-champion.
Maybe not a bad idea, many attribute that effort in 84 as what effectively cut short a brilliant career. He was never the same after that.

Total votes: 128

wow, that was pretty awesome. He should give these interviews more often.

Total votes: 165

I always thought success was measured in world championships ????????? not race wins.
Follow your thread, did Nicky win the WC in 2006 ? yes he did with fewer race wins than VR, but who had the more successful season ? do you imply he didn't deserve it. Thought not !!
At the end of the day it's about cumulitive pionts that win WC's
Stop confusing the the meaning of success otherwise you end up diluting it down to even more ultimately meaningless stats.

Total votes: 158

...I would agree with what you just said.

However, I think this season so far is definitely showing MotoGP fans who will become the best rider of the 800cc era.

Be it by championships or race wins - it will be CS27.

Total votes: 171

...if he can pull it off (which is likely). His arrival at the top along with the 800s and subsequent success, championships or not, will likely still make it the 'Stoner era'. But the best part is that if he doesn't, it could be the most exciting season of the last 5 years.

Total votes: 141

Both race wins and championships are measures of success. These are the two most important statistics. You mentioned Nicky Hayden and this is exactly why many people don't rate his championship highly. He won because he was more consistent than others, not because he was a better rider. I am not knocking Hayden, a world championship is a great achievement, but how many races has Hayden won in MotoGP? Surely no-one seriously thinks that Hayden was a better rider than Rossi in 2006. Also consistency (and therefore championship success) can be heavily affected by problems with the bike, witness Rossi in 2006, Stoner in 2009/10. There is nothing the slightest bit meaningless about race wins, it easily the second most important measure of success after championships.

Total votes: 161

Couldn't agree more motogpmd.
The Stoner bashing continues but as the season progresses its becoming clear that Casey won 23 times in the 800cc class in spite of the Ducati, rather than because of it.
Lorenzo & Stoner are the two fastest guys in MotoGP for the last few years, if anyone doubts that look what Casey could do on the Duke & ask yourselves why is Rossi now at Ducati. He is having a terrible season, but that is still far better than being beaten week in week by Lorenzo at Yamaha.
Props to Honda for not neutering the interview, good stuff.

Total votes: 138

Stoner fans see anything but absolute adoration as bashing. But those same fans rip apart the Cult of Rossi for being equally as vapid. I'm writing this now, but I really like that little star system. When I want to point out how absolutely short sighted or nonsensical someone is, I can just click the appropriate rating and save my finger energy.

The general Crash.net commenter may leave a steaming turd of a comment in text message English, but it's comments like this that are closer to that than the bearable discourse that is not so uncommon here.

Thanks for the stars, David.

Total votes: 153

I enjoy watching Casey ride, as i did Mick Doohan before him or Troy Bayliss in SBK. They ride hard & say little. I like watching Lorenzo for his epic corner speed. In general i just love watching bikes on the limit. My only "adoration" is for the riding skills being showcased.
As you brought up the "Cult of Rossi", he was the best rider of the last years of the 500's & of the 990 era, but not of all time. But thats just my opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own.

Total votes: 145

but just one year later Capirossi's MotoGP career was in tatters after he was utterly destroyed by his new team mate...

Total votes: 166

For posting a comment that incited a lot of the kind of debate that I don't want on this board. That is not a judgement on your comment, that was a pre-emptive action to ensure that the debate doesn't sink into the gutter. Your comment was collateral damage, as where 5 or 6 other comments.

The comments are monitored heavily here, although to my immense pride, I don't have to actually delete or edit comments very often, as the community tends to police itself.

Any comment posted here may be edited or deleted as I see fit. The only basis for moderating comments, however, is for tone, never for content. You are free to voice your opinions, whatever they are. However, if I feel you have made an argument badly, or indulged in inflammatory rhetoric with little analysis or thought behind it, I will delete it.

You will note that I have also edited your post above. For much the same reasons as given here.

Total votes: 153

I enjoy reading Stoner interviews. They are not obscured by translation nor by English as a second language. They often contain comments that are evidence of an analytic and highly informed approach to racing and bike setup. He is now in his fifth year on a works bike and at his second factory team and has obviuosly learned a lot over this period and prior to it.
When I first read this interview on Soup I looked forward to analytic comments on the content of the interview when it reached here. The comments on the merits of having multiple inputs at testing time were particularly interesting to me.

Total votes: 167

Stoner is like many people totally engulfed in something they love but don't necessarily feel obliged to push it onto anyone else who they feel may not understand the passion. Look at collectors, vintage cars, bikes, guitars, Evel Knievel lunch boxes etc., they can be a strange bunch. Once you ask the right questions though, they'll talk all day.
To some, winning is everything and in a way the end of the final race is a bit of an anticlimax and when you look back, I'll bet you all remember a 'race' before you remember a 'championship'!

Total votes: 155

I think it's not the bikes that are reducing the passing, I think it's just become such a professional sport that riders don't make mistakes like they used to.

Stoner vocalizes what I was thinking for some time now: At least the 4 Aliens + Spies are so good and so consistently good that that they leave no "door open" by making mistakes that others can profit on. Or said in other words, if Stoner wants to outbreak Rossi (once he's got the Duke sorted) by breaking 3m later, Stoner will miss the corner entry by roughly 3m and the pass will fail. That's why we see few and mostly rather hard passes lately.

Another reason why we see no "battles" is because once 1 rider with a pace just a little faster has passed the other he will make no mistakes during the next corners/laps so the overtaken rider has no chance to counter, the only option is doing a stupid manoeuvre that probably end in the gravel for both.

A 3rd reason why we are seeing fewer passes was expressed in the MotoGP Mugello press release of Ben Spies: "Once I saw we weren't going to catch the front guys I let Marco back by, I wanted him to pull me around to see where I was stronger than he was. I left it until the last lap, the last corner I could see he was leaving the door wide open so we were able to sneak right in and get fourth place."
Spies executed a cold blooded plan, hide the weak spots on the track from the competition and study their weaknesses. Then, at the end of the race, when the competition has no time left to do a "counter study", make the pass on your strong part of the track and block all the way to the finish line.
Instead of a race long passing duel we saw 1 successful, well planed pass. Spies performance was brilliant, but it left us fans with a lot less passes than we could have had. It's precisely this "professionalism" Stoner is talking about that dries up race battles.

This new situation is a constant and independent of the type of bikes, having no TC and a standard ECU wont change this IMO. Put the 4 + 1 Aliens on the old 500s of 1989 and we will still see no overtaking festivals as Dennis Noyes suggested in his interesting 3-part article series.

So you'll go into the corner and normally my bike's set up a little bit more so it releases the front a little bit earlier. We've got a bit stiffer springs in, maybe. So I'm able to go into corner a long way and I have to, to be honest, to get the bike to turn, keep that bike weighted and loaded. And if you don't you've got to have a bike that when you release the brake it doesn't want to release so much.

An informative comment like that is just soo cool, why can't we have that from Rossi, JLo, Pedrosa and Spies?

Total votes: 154

magic_carpet on Sat, 2011-07-09 10:41. wrote "An informative comment like that is just soo cool, why can't we have that from Rossi, JLo, Pedrosa and Spies?"

If they do that, they'll be accused of "whinning/moaning" *

*delete where applicable

Total votes: 178

Fair enough David, after all it's your ball we're all playing with so I guess you are judge and jury.
By the way great work with the website and I did not intend to offend, however a little thought went into the comments !!

Total votes: 143

I thought it was a great interview. I too, will give props to Honda - it does'nt sound like some flowery pre-recorded corporate B.S. But a rider whose the best on his day (which are all to frequent for me this year). It shows how much goes into riding one of these infernal beasts.

He was awfully complementary to the other riders skills without going out of his way to praise them. Like stating the obvious.

Thanks for posting it here David. Thanks for moderating the comments too.. The well informed responses here and mostly civil tone (note to self) are the reasons I love this site so much (oh, and the journalism is the best in the biz also:-).

Total votes: 145

from being the fast and furious kid that could think of nothing more than keeping the throttle pinned for as long as he dared.

Was it Ramon Forcada that stated Stoner would be downright dangerous once he matured a bit and started bring training and diet into his equation? Perhaps 2009 and his lactose intolerance was a bit of a wake up call here.

I think the 2011 model Stoner has fully completed that maturity, bringing dedication (aforementioned training and diet) to his undoubted riding prowess. Allied with - what is becoming much clearer to us all - a thorough understanding of how a motorcycle responds and what technical aspects need to be changed to improve the motorcycle. Rossi's last remaining advantage over the young bucks has largely been mitigated (more so with Stoner and Pedrosa who have been through a few 800's, than stable M1 platformed Lorenzo), as their years in the premier division multiple.

Great insight. Thanks Casey and HRC.

Total votes: 160

In some ways, Casey Stoner is like Eddie Lawson. Eddie was never enamoured of the European press - particularly the motorcycle press. That was probably because they were very critical of him when he arrived in the premier class as KR's young team-mate. They wanted to know why a European rider was not given that ride. And they bagged him. Eddie's response was to lock himself away and ignore them, and concentrate on what he was there for: winning races and championships. Mick Doohan was much the same (and he probably learned that from Eddie in his first year in the Honda team in 1989). Stoner too has been slammed time and again. First it was "he's a crasher, win it or bin it." Curiously, the Euros loved Kevin Schwantz precisely because of that. Then it was (in 2007): "he only wins because he has the fastest bike - anyone could sit on that thing and turn the throttle and win races." And then there was "he wins on that bike because it was built for him" - despite the fact Loris Capirossi did a lot of testing on the prototype Ducati 800 and Stoner was very much a late addition to the team. Even in 2007 the Ducati 800 was a bit of a handful - take a look at the Czech GP at Brno where John Hopkins (on the Suzuki!) hounded him for ages but Stoner just rose to the occasion, and despite the front-end looking very dubious, rode it to the limit lap after lap and eased away from Hopkins to win by almost 8 seconds. Nicky was third, Pedrossa fourth and Valentino was 22 seconds back. That was a monumental effort from Stoner. Oh, and the Bowhunter thing? Guess what Casey likes to do back at home in the Aussie outback?

Total votes: 152