2011 Mugello MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Italian Expectations, Prodigal Pedrosa, And MotoGP's Bad Boy

Due to technical issues (internet connection problems in the accommodation we are staying in at Mugello), Thursday's round up is late, for which you have our sincere apologies. We hope you will bear with us through this.

MotoGP rolls into Mugello with what looks like being the hottest weekend of the year ahead of it. And from the events of the first day, that's hottest in every conceivable sense of the word.

That this is going to be something special came as we rolled into the car park at the spectacularly situated Italian circuit. Where normally, Thursday afternoons are a relatively quiet affair, the paddock was bustling with people and the paddock car parks were filling up quickly. Valentino Rossi riding a Ducati is a big deal anywhere, but at Mugello, it is something akin to seeing the Beatles in the Cavern Club or Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. Crowds have been down at every track so far this season - economies around the world continue to suffer - but Mugello could be on course for a record attendance.

The crowds are unlikely to see what they came for, however. From the beginning of the year, Rossi has struggled to get to grips with the Ducati Desmosedici, even abandoning the 2011 bike - the GP11 - at the last race in favor of a 2012 machine with a destroked engine, now dubbed the GP11.1. But at Assen, the main problem remained. While the rear pumping issue was solved on the new bike, the lack of front feel - a result of the inability to get heat into the front Bridgestone - remains.

The problem is worryingly similar to the situation at Suzuki, where the bike only works in hot temperatures - one reason to keep an eye on Alvaro Bautista this weekend, who may finally be able to find some grip from his GSV-R. The heat of the air and from the track gives the tires an initial bump in temperature, leaving the bike and the rider with less work to do to get the recalcitrant Bridgestones into the zone where they go from giving frighteningly little feedback into the temperature range where they become the very best motorcycle tires on the face of the planet.

Then, the Desmosedici's front-end woes disappear, and Rossi is able to push. When Rossi tested the GP12 here (identical to the GP11.1 except for the conrods and the crankshaft), temperatures were like they are expected to be for Sunday, Rossi said in the press conference. "Maybe the temperature will help us," Rossi said, though he also did his best to temper expectations. "We are not strong enough to fight for the victory," the Italian warned, "and also not for the podium." There could be a lot of disappointed Italians come Sunday night.

Naturally, the assembled minds of the paddock are trying to figure out why Rossi is struggling on the Ducati. Nobody believes Rossi has lost his edge - many paddock insiders, including myself, believe that the Italian is capable of riding better than he ever has, pushed on by the incredible level of the kids who came into the class to try (and in two cases, succeed) to beat him. Capable, if only he were still with Yamaha or Honda, and not struggling on a wayward Ducati.

The two favorite explanations for the problems with the Ducati center around the chassis. One group believe the size of the chassis is the problem, with so little material in the small forward subframe which comprises the Ducati's front chassis that engineering in sufficient flex is a difficult proposition. Another group believe that the issue is the use of carbon fiber, with not so much the stiffness being the problem as the way that it responds when flexing. Carbon fiber tends to snap back into position, rather than return to its original position at a more controlled pace. That in turn gives it a very harsh feel, which may run against the instincts of a rider who has spent the best part of 20 years riding aluminum twin beam frames.

While Rossi's travails on the Ducati are the biggest story of the season, the biggest news of this weekend was the return to the track of Dani Pedrosa after three races' absence. The Repsol Honda rider was in the press conference, where he dealt irritably with questions concerning the mysteries and rumors surrounding his injury. No, he told the press conference, he did not crash riding a supermoto machine, he had not touched a motorcycle all during his injury. No, he had not been bowling, but had merely gone to a bowling alley as a visitor. His response to the question about whether he had bowled himself showed his irritation with the questions and rumors: "Do you think I'm stupid?" Definitely not, but that never stopped people trying to sell newspapers.

The real cause of Pedrosa's injury was a piece of bone that probably came loose during training. The problem was that the plate inserted into Pedrosa's shoulder to reinforce his collarbone was smaller than usual, and the screws used to hold the plate and collarbone in place were shorter than usual, to allay Pedrosa's fear of a recurrence of the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome that plagued him after his broken collarbone at Motegi last year. The new system was slightly weaker and less stable than a normal plated collarbone (such as the ones fitted to Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow), with the result that a small piece of bone came loose. Pedrosa had noticed pain while training, and after examination by surgeons, and a second operation to fix the loose bone fragment, everything was strong once again.

Some - perhaps a large part - of Pedrosa's irritation was a result of the seating arrangements. Somehow - whether through ignorance or by design - Pedrosa found himself seated next to the man he blames for breaking his collarbone, Marco Simoncelli. The situation made both men uncomfortable, neither looking at the other throughout the event, even when a spat erupted between the two at the end of the press conference.

Pedrosa struck the first blow when asked about the events at Le Mans. "If somebody is still doubting about this, it's unbelievable" Pedrosa said, referring to the train of events which saw Simoncelli cut off Pedrosa's path and the two collide. "It's clear what he is showing on the track."

Pedrosa's anger was clear to see, and Simoncelli's response - in press releases, and in a text message which the Italian says he sent the Spaniard - had done nothing to pacify him. "In Estoril, he was joking that maybe somebody should arrest him," Pedrosa said of Simoncelli, "but maybe he needs it. On his head is nothing but hair." The latter phrase is a literal translation of a piece of wordplay which is quite funny in Spanish, which you might translate into English as "his head is full of nothing but hair," implying that the space underneath his hair is worryingly empty.

Simoncelli was unimpressed by Pedrosa's accusations. "For me, the things that he and his manager say are stupid things," Simoncelli said. "Is better not to speak with him or his manager." The exchange made for an awkward group photograph at the end of the press conference. The body language was beyond stilted, the gaps between the riders - Simoncelli standing next to Pedrosa, Rossi beside Casey Stoner - as large as possible in a group photograph.

Simoncelli has been the talk of the paddock. The Italian has quickly become a fan favorite, and is immensely exciting to watch on a motorcycle. The fact that he is 2nd in the BMW M Award (the classification for the fastest qualifiers) is a demonstration of Simoncelli's raw speed. The fact that he is in 10th in the World Championship standings, with the struggling Toni Elias the only Honda rider behind him, is a testament to his erratic race performance.

There is a strong current of sentiment in the paddock against Simoncelli, and not just emanating from the Spanish media. One mechanic told me that he was disgusted to read comparisons of Simoncelli's passes to the passes of Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Wayne Gardner in the past. "They never left another rider no room," he said, "Simoncelli is not Wayne Gardner." Simoncelli's former 250 rival Alvaro Bautista - no nowhere near Simoncelli on the race track - has been saying the same thing about Simoncelli for years. Previously, Bautista has told the Spanish media, his complaints were dismissed, but now everybody suddenly agrees with him.

Such complaints will not deter the vast band of fans that Simoncelli has amassed, both in Italy and aboard, however. As Valentino Rossi falters, the allegiance of the Italian - and a large section of the British and American - fans has switched from the nine-time World Champion to Simoncelli. The Italian brings a much-needed dose of excitement into the MotoGP series - though for both the right and the wrong reasons. Simoncelli bears the weight of expectations on his shoulders at Mugello, and his record at the track suggests that he could do well on Sunday.

Simoncelli's biggest problem, however, is that his record at every other track so far this season has been frankly dismal. Four race crashes - two on the first lap - a ride-through and two reasonable finishes is not a fantastic record for the Italian. If Simoncelli crashes again, or is involved in another incident, then HRC could start to lose patience with the Italian. He may be good marketing value for the San Carlo Gresini team, but he has not got the results that Honda demands, nor that his status and equipment as a factory rider deserves.

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He who laughs last, laughs best? Will be interesting to see whether Simoncelli will manage to grow some neuron among his hair.

...the other riders complain about Simoncelli, the more people are going to like him!

... with Mugello being the "hottest" race of this season, and so much fuzz surrounding Rossi and the Duke, it would be such a sweet irony of life when Sic would take his maiden MotoGP win on Sunday.

Or, in stark contrast to the atmosphere, a quiet racer like Dovi.

Given that life has a crush on irony I'm full of hope for Sunday.

this guy has been an assassin since day one of entering the paddock.We have all seen him do precisely the same things in the smaller classes as he is doing now.The animus from the other riders is entirely understandable given he may not just ruin their race, or season, but their career.
Maybe if he takes out #46 race direction might give him a little holiday, or #27, and HRC can do the same

I get the impression that Ducati need to move Preziosi sideways. He is the man by all accounts when it comes to the engine leave him on that, he apppears to be hopeless on the frame side, neither understanding the material nor it's relevance.
Call Furasawa who I believe has his own consultancy(and probably team) and put him on the frame as Yam make a very nice one. There is no shame in changing something that doesn't work nor in getting outside help for a new direction. It is no coincidence I believe that the Honda is now getting out of the corners like the yam(only with a better engine) after they poached the yam technicians.
After this mornings performance Ducati will be lucky not to get lynched it couldn't have gone worse in a Hollywood script...

Preziosi knows an awful lot about CF and it's relevance (?). Certainly far more than the writer above.

Ducati are trying to move the game forward and for this they should be applauded. As David states their No.1 rider has spent 20 yrs on ally beam frames, so part of it is a mind set readjustment from him - as the man himself has constantly stated to his credit too. Stoner cut his road racing teeth on beam frames too don't forget, but has been adaptable enough to win on Ally, Steel & CF.

O.K Ducati don't have it right yet. But this is an incremental game. They will get there, but both parties need to do their bit for this marriage to be a fruitful one.

Sorry Nostro, it was based on results not Preziosis calculations, I should have made that clear.. Do you have any info to support the idea that it will work eventually and more importantly when?? 

Rossi has spent one fickle weekend on the GP11.9 and is already asking for new parts to be thrown at the thing whilst in the same breathe uttering he needs to understand its nature more?

Like Russian Roulette eventually when you spin the barrel enough times something will happen. Not a very logical nor methodical way to play the game though is it?

I wonder if ducati have ever tried talking/working with the team behind the britten as the V1000 was essentially the GP10/11/11.1/12 ten plus years ago (chassis wise). I believe it even ended up with telescopic front forks in the end???

I would imagine if Carbon as a chassis member were to be any issue then some of the guys involved with it must have a wealth of knowledge.

John Britten started out with two Denco speedway motors forged together on a common crank, before developing his own engine. Chassis wise it was always a CF headstock piece not dis-similar to the Desmosideci's. Although originally it ran normal forks before John put the Hossack style front end on it. John also tried winglets - although up by the handlebars. These never made it to the final iconic blue and pink variation of the Britten.

The main riders over the period of the Brittens existence were Andrew Stroud and Jason McEwan. The thing had engine, but the handling really wasn't all that if you ask them. I doubt there's much (if anything) the Britten boys could teach Ducati corse.

handling wise there has been much development obviously in the understanding of chassis dynamics and design, but in terms of carbon fibre as a structural member in motorcycles, they must have by far the most experience, and the lessons and understanding then would still apply today on the material side (assuming that is the issue)

I wouldn't have minded seeing their carbon fibre con rod motor either. GP13 maybe???? haha

I seemed to recall that after johns death it was fitted with telescopic forks again at the request of some of the riders.

Takes no ownership for his behavior, blames everything else and has no plan for the future - that's why he is where he is.

Given his discipline (or lack of it) he would have been better served struggling on a non-factory ride for another year and earning the right to mix it up with the front pack.

There are plenty of riders in the field who would be capable of being very fast on the right bike. I don't doubt that Simoncelli is very fast, his pace is impressive - however - his consistent crashing/cutting off lines/aggressivness-resulting-in-damage is what sets him apart from the other quick riders, and championship points tell the story there.

I'm enjoying the drama somewhat, and it gives us all something to talk about until the racing hopefully closes up at the front, but I really wish it wasn't involving championship contenders (or other riders at all), and unfortunately his career has been highlight after highlight of questionable moves ending in tears.

But he's fast right?

Your post is making me think back: As a Spies fan I was miffed when the new rule conveniently came in that rookies could no longer ride for ‘works factory teams [considering who was at Yamaha, wishful thinking on my part, granted], but given Simoncelli’s history, and current flagrant championship affecting errors, it seems the rule makers may have been quite circumspect (if ultimately still ineffective), bringing advance action to address Simoncelli’s past, and projected future (i.e. giving inexperienced wild kids the fastest bikes is maybe not such a great idea.) That just never occurred to me before: that that rule change might actually have been proactive specific to Simoncelli.

In any case Simoncelli is proving those rule makers visionaries.

HRC are not crazy. Letting Simoncelli go or taking his ride away might bite them in the (not so distant) future. They made a mistake like that a few years ago with Rossi and if I was HRC I wouldn't make that mistake again.
Maybe this year he will keep falling of his bike a few times (taking other riders with him or not) and show a few brilliant races. He might end up somewhere where he is now in the final standings. But if next year he will have more sense AND more luck he will be someone you'll want on a Honda and not a Ducati! They will sort their bike sooner or later and another Italian to replace Rossi if he retires will be very much welcomed...

If he will mysteriously have more sense next year, then why can't he show it now? Or even better, four races ago? His track record tells the story unfortunately.

..many riders went through this. Stoner wa a notorious crasher and so was Lorenzo. They got their act together in the end and beat Rossi in the proces.

Maybe there is some truth about the saying that you can't make a slow rider fast but you can make a fast rider stop crashing...

Witness one RdeP. Will he ever learn? He could actually be very good on a more forgiving Superbike. Then there's old Decka Checa. Took him a while by at the ripe old age of 38 (?) he's sorted himself out.

Here's another way to think about how HRC views Simoncelli. Yes, they are absolutely unhappy about his move on Pedrosa and I'm sure they've already spoken to him either directly or indirectly. I'm sure HRC has also made it indelibly clear that Simo better not go anywhere near Stoner (and perhaps Dovi) this year. However, I don't think they'll try to temper his riding at all. He's shown so much speed that HRC would be crazy not to keep cultivating his talent in their stable. Not that I think HRC would affirmatively encourage bad behavior, but they certainly don't lose much if he pushes Jorge off the racing line a few more times this year.

It's very strange - but I am just watching the movie Senna and stopped just to read this article. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I am seeing a striking similarity between the dramas (on track and political) that Senna went through and what Simoncelli is facing now.

I just really hope he stays on this weekend.

And you know what - the fans love to support the underdog. Yep - I'm another one of the new Simoncelli fans.

I will undoubtedly echo some of the sentiment expressed here, I think that in spite of Simoncelli's current dismal points position, his impetuous 'banzai' passing and questionable on-track judgement he is a real talent. Others have mentioned two of the classes current stars, Stoner & Lorenzo who in their first year on MotoGP bikes sampled much kitty-litter and provided us with some memorable high-sides but similarly showed flashes of raw talent and brilliance. In the same way, then, the lanky cartoon-hairstyled Super-Sic...HRC will keep him, he will win races and possibly go on to do more.
You can teach somebody to be more circumspect, practice better judgement far more easily than teaching FAST, and of that there is no doubt, he is FAST.

"You can teach somebody to be more circumspect, practice better judgement far more easily than teaching FAST,..."

Agreed. But he either needs to learn that, or be taught it, soon. Because despite relatively few really serious injuries, MotoGP is dangerous. And guys like Simoncelli make it more dangerous than it has to be. This is the root of the resentment and caution shown toward him -- he poses a risk to other riders.

First of all, Simoncelli is NOT a rookie, he was last year. He was very slow and fell an awful lot in the preseason but became better and better to finish his rookie season as a real threat and regular contender in the top6.
He his now in his second year in MotoGP, just as Spies, Aoyama, Barbera and Bautista are.

Stoner fell a lot during his rookie year (failed to finish 7 races!) on a second tier privateer Honda, sole rider of a team discovering MotoGP.
But on his second year in the category he finished every race, winning 10 of them to wrap up the world championship.

On his rookie year Lorenzo failed to finish 4 races (racking up 4 poles, 1 win and 6 podiums). In his 2nd year he also failed to finish 4 races but finished runner-up in the championship with 4 wins, 12 podiums and 5 poles.

Simoncelli is in his second year, on an official bike, and already failed to finish 3 races...out of 7, plus crashing twice more while being able to rejoin!

For a rookie, it would be bad enough, for a sophomore year it's really really bad and clearly not comparable to either Stoner or Lorenzo record.

It's no wonder people like Simoncelli - he's one of the few newer riders who looks like he has the speed to challenge the 4 (3) "aliens" for race wins. Spies' win at Assen was the first win in the dry by a non-alien since 2006 (Bayliss in a one-off race at Valencia, I believe). Since then, we have watched the same 4 guys (really only 3 until Lorenzo came along a couple years ago) win the races and vie for the championship. New blood is good.

How long is Ducati going to go down this path with the CF frame? They've been using it since 2009 with really no appreciable results to show for it; sure Casey won a few races on it, but his championship was on the trellis-framed Desmo. They have thrown a lot of good racers at it and no one has been able to be consistently successful at it. Maybe there is a reason that no one has really worked on a carbon fibre framed bike since what, the 80s? Maybe it just doesn't work.

" - and a large section of the British and American - "

I was never such a big fan of Rossi. Of course how can you not respect, if not be in awe of, what he's accomplished on the track? He possesses the best 'racecraft' of the last decade, by a mile. But I never really found myself rooting for him.

Simoncelli? Like I wrote before, he doesn't come off as a reckless idiot, but having seen all the 'incidents' this year, I think he often rides like one. So I don't blame the paddock for being, let's say, cautious on him, despite the fact it does make it a lot more interesting when he's up there challenging the 'aliens', especially -- as you allude -- with Rossi having his problems. So like Rossi I can't say I root for him.

For me, Stoner's prolonged absence in 2009 showed his importance to MotoGP. It just wasn't the same without him, since he's been the most consistent challenger to Rossi in the 800cc era, and per some stats -- race wins, poles -- the fastest. And in a David (Stoner) v Goliath (Rossi & Co) sort of way, I found myself rooting for him more than any other rider. Also partly because he didn't seem to get the respect his on-track accomplishments seemed to warrant.

David, I am not sure if all of these are being pulled form the forum but certainly a lot must be coming from mythology. I particularly like this one:

"Another group believe that the issue is the use of carbon fiber, with not so much the stiffness being the problem as the way that it responds when flexing. Carbon fiber tends to snap back into position, rather than return to its original position at a more controlled pace."

Now when one builds a structure such as a motorcycle frame out of a material, whether it is carbon fiber or aluminum, if they have the same stiffness then they have the same spring rate just like the spring on your shock or your fork. If you apply a force they will deform a certain amount (presumably linearly, since that is predictable) and if you remove that force they will return at the same rate. Why can one not return faster than the other? The answer is conservation of energy. The deformed frame is a spring with energy stored within it and both frames, with the same spring rate have the same energy so in order for the carbon frame to return to it's original position faster it would need to have energy added to it otherwise it violates the conservation of energy principle.

Then there is something called hysteresis. Hysteresis is a property that polymers exhibit in which the material returns to its relaxed position slower, or on a different path on the material stress-strain curve. You can think of it as internal damping of the material and it is something that metals don't generally exhibit. Composites, being made up of both a polymer matrix and a fiber reinforcement, exhibit mechanical properties which come from BOTH the matrix and the reinforcement. Along the axis of the fiber, the properties are primarily driven by the reinforcement, however the transverse direction is primarily driven by the matrix. Depending on the fiber orientation and matrix properties you do really have a lot of tuning options available with the frame that the traditional metal frame will not allow including some damping characteristics which could prove very beneficial when trying to control the motorcycle at full lean.

I had the pleasure of watching that whole interview and I've never been more comfortable! hahaha who's bright idea was the seating arangement! the Dani dropped that bomb! with Simo right next to him! Clearly MotoGP doesn't really mind the nonsense going off the track and maybe are trying to turn it into the WWE! This whole interview just gave Randy Mamola a couple more points for his mandatory rider meeting!

This weekend seems to me as being a crescendo of an all around exciting season so far (other than the lack of on-track battles)...

Can Sic finally prove his speed in an actual race, Can Spies back up his tremendous win with a good result, can Stoner meet Sic's speed challenge and still dominate, can Pedrosa pick up where he left off and battle with Stoner, can Lorenzo stop the Yamaha bleeding and battle for a win, and of course can Rossi start bringing the results the championship and all his fans are in desperate need for at their most important weekend so far??

So I am more excited than normal for this weekend... let's hope we have some supreme on-track battles with a close finish worthy of such a great track and interesting season!!


Acording to Motocuatro Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Hayden, Crutchlow, Edwards and Simoncelli attended the security commision reunion this time but the Simoncelli situation was not discussed. Apparently the riders are all big talk in front of the cameras but on close quarters with the possibility of actual discussion they are quite timid. Sad really.

Or could it be that it's just a big media storm, maybe the actual riders remember that they're racers and racing incidents happen in racing? Hmmm, funny that! "The Simoncelli situation" - you make it sound like dramatized pseudo-documentary. Maybe you should start writing the script!

Actually Dani and Jorge have been talking a lot about Simoncelli, not about safety in general, they talk about him and what kind of penalty should be enforce. Dani actually said that was why he was going to go to the meeting and Lorenzo and Simoncelli did cross a (very) few words about it but when they had already left the reunion (according to them). So this is definitely not just the media but it is greatly magnified by the media constantly asking them about it, and hopefully will blow over soon.

I like Marco. He is fast, but not any faster than the current so called "aliens". When he starts riding at around 97% rather than 99 to 101% (101% is a crash) he will (if he has the racecraft/talent) have better results.

He reminds me a lot of Ruben Xaus. Ruben has flashes of brilliance (or used to anyway) but fell off all too often. In Casey's words - his ambition oftimes exceeds his talent. Now that Ruben isn't falling as much, he is finishing further back in the pack.

Marco has yet to display whether he has Vale talent, or Ruben talent. Only time, wins and championships will tell.

Meanwhile, Ben is right on schedule!

They don't hand out 250 World Championships just because someone's wearing a fright wig. If he can temper his natural aggression enough on a 250 then there is absolutely no reason that he can't on the big bikes a couple of years on from then. He just needs to smooth it out a little, relax and dial it back a notch, and fully understand the Bridgestones - if that is at all possible. Voila, fast, not quite so furious and finishing - on the podium, alot.

OK … I need more than two words: Simoncelli is also by far the heaviest rider. We don’t know yet, but I don't think we've seen him not go backwards this year in a full race distance on a bike with 21L fuel. This may be the electronics cutting back max RPMs in 6th gear to make sure he finishes the race. Hayden had that problem a while back. It’s just wild speculation right now, but to my mind, it’s something that has to be proven wrong by wins (and I hope he does!) It just stands to reason he would use significantly more fuel, unless we’re seeing plenty of fuel left over in his Honda after a race.

For some reason, everybody seems to forget that Rossi developed a so called Honda, a so called Yamaha, both of which seem to be doing extremely well in leading and winning races and the fact that he has been brought in to help develop the Ducati. So if he is asking for parts, for changes to the bike while still needing to find the feeling, I think Ducati want to listen. The first comments out of preziozi regarding Rossi's first test of the desmo, "The engineers are impressed with his level of technical feedback". I believe I read on this website that Yamaha has gone back to last year's frame...most riders just seem to ride the bike but don't know as much as they should on the technical side that they should.

Why is the Ducati's drivability so poor after Stoner being on it for 5 years? I think the Ducati engineers need to be tought the right direction after possibly years of mis-direction? The rider describes how the bike is feeling and the engineers try to fix the problem based on the rider's feedback...

On the topic of Simo, yah he crashes but wasn't it Stoner that crashed out of the lead in 3 races or so in a row in 2010? All front end tucks...Wasn't it Stoner that had a front end tuck on the warm up lap of a race last year in 2010...On the Ducati...

Ducati needs direction and I think Rossi will fix it section by section. The rear seems fixed, now, isolate the front to see if the frame is the issue, carbon fiber, or just too small of a margin for suspension settings that a rider can't ride around the problem?

I think Simo is bringing an interesting dynamic to this Year's racing and I hope he continues to ruffle the feathers! People want character and charisma of which he has both!!!

"Ducati engineers need to be tought the right direction after possibly years of mis-direction?"

It's well known that both Stoner (and presumably Hayden and others who've ridden it) have been giving feedback all along. As Jerry Burgess said himself - the problem was that Ducati just did not listen, they put down Stoners crashes to rider error or just bad luck without really looking at the bike as a potential problem. The only reason that Ducati won so many races with Stoner was because of his great talent and ability to ride it on the edge like no other.

Having Rossi onboard is probably just what they needed - now it's all on the line they've gotta start listening to some rider feedback and seriously look at the machine now that Rossi just isn't willing to ride on the edge like Stoner did and risk so many crashes like Stoner experienced.

I have seen it written several times that Casey had been on the Ducati for 5 years, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 is 4 years or have I missed something?

So, what I am saying is that the engineers worked on one way but it wasn't the solution, they need to listen to the riders. It's very possible that they took stoner's feedback and tried to implement the changes without success, only because he had won them a championship. Is he able to relate in technical terms what the bike is doing or not, I don't know? What I do know is 3 other riders on the same bike weren't able to deal with this machine.

It's clear that when you look at Stonet riding a motorcycle, he is very comfortable having both front and rear wheel sliding, often both at the same time. Rossi is complaining he can't feel the front. I do believe at his age, he is not willing to sacrifice his body to find out the limit. I also think it's a mental approach, not getting feedback from the front and being tentative into the corners as opposed to trusting that the front will hold its line as Stoner was able to do but did pay dearly on several occasions...