Repsol Press Release: Casey Stoner On Sepang Testing, The Qatar Race, And Rossi's Chances

The busy folks at the Repsol Media Service issued another pre-season press release today, this time another interview with Repsol Honda new boy Casey Stoner. Here's what Stoner had to say:

"It will be interesting to see who goes for victory in the first race"

The Repsol rider is looking forward to start his first official competition with his Honda RC212V 2011

Casey Stoner came back home satisfied about the results obtained in the Sepang tests. After some days resting and thinking already in the approaching start of the Grand Prix season, the Australian rider is optimist about the tests in Qatar, where the last tests of the preseason will take place before the start of the MotoGP World Championship.

Casey, what you did in Malaysia – the last day of the tests - was simply amazing …

"Well, the day before, when we finished the job, we were aware that the next day in the morning we would be able to set a time under two minutes. In Sepang the track is usually at its best in the morning, but I do not usually feel at 100% in the first laps, I prefer to set my fastest time at the end of the day. We decided to use the soft tyres and try to be the first in setting a time under two minutes. To be honest I did not think that only one other rider would set a time like this, as the track was in optimal conditions. We must be happy about the job we did there, it was very good".

Qatar is a special race for you and you have won it on several occasions. How do you feel about the start of this new season?

"I am very excited, because we spent many days training, but that is not the ideal situation, as during the preseason we don't have a wide variety of circuits. Nevertheless, the races are finally approaching and I am looking forward to see how we perform with this team, how I work with the bike on the circuit and, above all, which is the general level for everyone. I am sure there will be riders more confident than others, so it will be interesting to see who goes for victory in the first race".

What is your opinion about the Grand Prix of Qatar will lasting four days?

"I don't like it. It is very difficult because at the time that we have to ride, late in the evening, the track conditions are very bad, cold and unpredictable. I would be better if we could ride a little earlier. But for a Grand Prix to last 4 days is too long. For me that's not the ideal, but everyone would be in the same situation, so we will go on as we have".

Your team mate Dani and you showed great strength during this preseason. Do you think this year everyone will be faster than ever?

"I think so, I have seen many riders that are taking more risks and they are pushing a lot more. There is more competitiveness because they think victory is possible, they feel they are closer to the podium and that motivates them to take more risks than before. I think we will see very exciting races this year".

Do you think the Honda is a step ahead of its rivals?

"It is difficult to say. Naturally, we are happy with the path Honda has taken and everything they have done for us from our first test in Valencia to now, because they have made good progress. Both Dani [Pedrosa] and I are pushing a little more than the others, but until we get to the race it is difficult to know where we really are. At this moment we are happy with what Honda is giving us, we just need to be sure that everything will work at the races".

Where are you with the clutch, the engine brake and the rebound problems you talked about during the tests?

"It is difficult to know if the problem comes from the clutch or the electronic control. The bike rebounds a lot when entering the corners and it is difficult to brake late, because the bike is a bit unstable. It is something on which we have worked a lot, specially during the two last sessions. We have improved a bit on that, but it is not enough yet, we have to dedicate more time to it to be at 100%. About the suspension, at the moment we are using last year's standard. We also have a modified 2011 fork that we tested once, but we had some problems and we did not feel fully comfortable. We decided to wait until we are sure about what we want from the bike before asking about the forks; we need more time to decide what we want".

Do you think we will see the same four riders on top this year or are there going to be changes?

"I expect some surprises, although I did the same last year and there were the same four riders winning races and getting on the podiums. I am certain Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo] will be in front, but Andrea [Dovizioso] is quickly improving and also Simoncelli and Ben Spies can increase the list. Valentino might be ready for the first race, but we might have to wait a little. But I am sure that there might be some unexpected rider that will make an effort to be in front".


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...the one to beat. I'm frankly surprised at his comments about Rossi. I thought he'd have been a bit more brusque on the subject, but then again, I've always been of the opinion that it's easier to be nice to someone when you know for a fact that you can beat the tar out of them. There's no intimidation, so there's no need to for chest thumping, etc.

That said, I still hope Ducati pulls something out of their collective...HATS. :)

Bring it on! I'm freaking OUT! F1, more WSBK, ANYTHING! PLEASE! I want to hear sounds of internal combustion!

That'll require an awfully big hat... The way I see it, the Ducati hasn't been ready since 2007 when they surprised everyone with all that top end. If not for Casey, a case could be made that they might not still be in MotoGP today.

when has stoner ever dismissed a rider without regard for merit? i don't know why anyone is surprised that he's not "brusque" with rossi. it's just not his style.

even when he had *legitimate* gripes against pedrosa in the 2005 250 championship or the not so legit ones against rossi after that 2008 laguna race he never dismissed his competitors.

you may not like the guy, but he's straight up

Casey Stoner has always been a straight talker. And after Rossi surprising all the fans and riders alike enough times he is probably not with giving Rossi ANY motivation that a stray comment would give. Casey is a class act and one of the best scrapper racers out there. He is the only rider that is entertaining to watch even when he is way out ahead by himself.

But he has to feel good inside knowing that the all conquering Rossi, is, so far, having a problem finding his speed and rythm on a bike he rode to victory so many times. This is killing me. We need the first race of the year to start!!!!!!!! All this speculation is like seeing your favorite meal on the television after not eating for 2 whole days, with no way to get that meal......torture....pur torture.

I am dying, Nascar has no weight to 2 wheeled action. I watch F1 on the off weekends for MC.

PI and then a month is not fair. Daytona 200 is this weekend and 40 entries I can't wait, but another 2 weeks. ARRGRGGHHHG

I put 25 bucks (USD) out that Stoner wins the first race Flag to flag.

Unexpected weather like we had a few years back may stretch it to 5 days !!!
Just two weeks and the unexpected rider should ultimately prove to be the generally expected one. My 27 bucks worth !!!
Good straight shooting from Casey.
With the dearth of winter testing and testing venues,the final test weekend may well throw up a few surprises.
So yes.Everything has gone swimmingly for HRC since Valencia and one would be right to expect much of the same in Quatar.
It's great to know that thus far all the riders have succeeded in failing to bust themselves up and long may it continue.
The Quatar test is not the race,but no doubt the punters will follow the time sheets as though it were.
Hopefully for Ducati,their riders can get to the sharp end otherwise the big Bologna send off could see the riot police called out to Borgo Panigale within the fortnight.
Good going and all the best on Casey.After the scaphoid problems in 2008,the health issue of 2009 and the 'big bang' CF failure of 2010,he deserves a break and HRC right now seem to have provided the basics.