Casey Stoner: "MotoGP Has Gone Soft"
After the formal press conference which traditionally kicks off every MotoGP weekend, Casey Stoner stayed on to speak to the English-language journalists at the Dutch track. The subject turned to the cold-tire highsides which saw Valentino Rossi and Hiroshi Aoyama injured, and taken out of action for at least a couple of months in both cases. Stoner was clearly sympathetic to the plight of both Rossi and Aoyama, but when one journalist asked if something needed to be done to prevent such injuries, the Marlboro Ducati rider pointed out that it had always been that way in the premier class. "Look at the 500s," he told reporters, "the riders were always flicking themselves back then."
But when another journalist suggested that we do not want to see a return to the bad old days of the 500cc two-stroke bikes, Stoner became vehement. "It was my dream to ride them," Stoner told the press, and went on to point out that this tendency to shy away from danger is part of an underlying trend in the modern sport. "This sport's becoming wimpy," Stoner said, "if everyone's not wrapped up in cotton wool, and it's not walls here, and walls there, there's no danger to the sport any more."
That created problems of its own, the Australian avowed. "Everybody just expects to go out there and be perfectly safe and perfectly happy," Stoner said, and that undermined the point of the sport. "I mean, what adrenalin rush are you going to get if there's no actual fear in it?"
The call for more protection was part of a bigger problem, Stoner suggested, saying that he felt that the sport was not taking the right direction. The addition of hard standing on the outside of corners was a typical example of this wrong direction, Stoner said. "Basically, you can just run off the track," Stoner told the assembled press. "You saw the 125s at Silverstone, they were using all the track and coming back on." That's not the way it should be, according to the Australian. "In my view, if you run off, it's your fault, deal with it, you get a bit of a bump or whatever."
All that extra hard standing and run off merely created a new set of dangers, Stoner explained. "There's no fear in the riders any more," the Marlboro Ducati rider said. "They keep going further and further, and it's going to come to a point where everybody starts to really smash into each other, which we've kind of seen in Moto2. It's becoming dangerous in that aspect, there's no respect for each other."