After dominating practice at Qatar, Casey Stoner's MotoGP season got off to a difficult start when he crashed out of the lead at the first race. The loss of 25 points is costly, but with engines limited to just 6 for the entire year, the crash itself could also be costly. The Marlboro Ducati rider then compounded his problem by crashing again during the first session of free practice at Jerez on Friday, lowsiding into the gravel.
But the crashes were no cause for concern, Stoner told the media on Friday evening. When asked if he was worried about engine damage, the Australian replied that he had been prepared for such an event. "I switched it off today, just to make sure," Stoner said. "I was warned before Qatar by the guys just to switch the engine off as quick as you can if you're not going to get up and rejoin the race," he explained. "I just wanted to make sure at that point and switch it off as quickly as I could."
The issue of crash damage is the one question mark hanging over the entire engine allocation rules. Unlike in Formula One, which has adopted similar rules, engines are very easily damaged in a crash. The engines have been modified slightly to reduce the amount of damage they are exposed to during a crash, but it is hard to rule it out altogether.
The fact that Casey Stoner's crashes had both been reasonably low-speed lowsides had also limited the possibility of damage. The real danger to the engines came from running while the bike is on its side, allowing dust from the gravel to enter the air intakes, and also risking damage from running the engine without proper lubrication, as the oil drains from the sump. One journalist suggested fitting an old-fashioned killswitch on a lanyard, an idea that tickled Stoner's sense of humor. "Yeah, like on jet ski," Stoner laughed. "Maybe that's a good idea!"