2012 Estoril MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

If there's one lesson we can take from Sunday's race at Estoril, it's this: "I've always said we know Casey's the guy that's the fastest guy in the world. Maybe over the seasons he hasn't put the championships together, but by far he's the best guy in the world." Cal Crutchlow is not known for mincing his words, and his description of Casey Stoner pulls no punches. But given the fact that Stoner only managed to win the Portuguese round of MotoGP by a second and a bit, is that not a little exaggerated?

Here's what Stoner had to say about it, when I asked him if winning with the chatter he suffered - even on the TV screens the massive vibration front and rear was clearly visible - made him more confident about the level of his performance. "It gives me a lot more confidence. That's the thing, you know, with arm pump, with the chatter problem, I've been feeling like crap all week, and my body's not as good as I normally am, and we still managed to hang on, we still managed to be clearly faster than the others at the end of the race."

Arrogance? Maybe, but with a championship lead, back-to-back wins at tracks he never liked and had not won a MotoGP race at, and having now completed the set (a win at every track currently on the calendar, last achieved by Valentino Rossi in 2008, but a record he lost when Silverstone and Aragon were added to the schedule), it is also a realistic assessment. Back in 2007, I wrote that Casey Stoner was the fastest motorcycle racer on the planet, and with each passing season, he has grown to become the most complete. He can pass when he needs to, fight if he has to, though much to the chagrin of the fans, he believes his safest course of action is to put the hammer down and try to gap the field.

Perhaps once he realizes he is so much faster than anyone else, he will ease up and start to toy with the others the way that Valentino Rossi toyed with Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau nearly ten years ago. But where Rossi was like a cat playing with a mouse he had caught, Stoner is more like a shark: attack, take one bite, kill your prey, and move on to the next one. Boring? Certainly, but there is a kind of beauty in that ruthless efficiency. Stoner may never please the crowds, but watching him bend a MotoGP bike to his will is still the most breathtaking sight for anyone who can appreciate the skill it requires to go that fast. Where Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi try to become one with the motorcycle, and coax it into giving its very best, Stoner dominates the machine, beating it into submission.

To  my mind, Casey Stoner has just one major fault: he believes Honda pays him to race motorcycles. In reality, it is the fans who watch motorcycle racing, and admire what he does on a bike, and then go out and buy a Honda scooter in Indonesia, or fill their gas tank at a Repsol station in Spain, or buy Gas jeans in a fashion store somewhere around the world. These are the people who pay his wages, and on occasion, it would be good for him to take them into consideration.

But for those who are not fans of the Australian, it's going to be a long couple of years. Stoner's lead in the championship may be just a single, solitary point, but the title race is pretty much a foregone conclusion. If Stoner can win with so much chatter, Jorge Lorenzo has a massive mountain to climb. The Spaniard will need a lot of help from Yamaha, and he must hope that HRC take a long time to fix the problem with chatter.

To be honest, Lorenzo is putting in a sterling job of trying to keep Stoner honest. His team have pulled the occasional rabbit out of the hat on Sunday morning when they have needed to, but the Yamaha needs more than just a decent setup to beat Stoner. They have a lot of work ahead of them, and they will be hoping that the new engine they will be testing on Monday will be a step in the right direction.

Honda will be testing one thing, and one thing only: trying to get rid of the chatter. To do that, they need dry track time, but with a few hours to go before the test, it is raining very heavily with no sign of a let up. What if it rains during the test and Honda can't try to cure the chatter? "We're f****d".

At Ducati, they too will be testing a new engine on Monday. Valentino Rossi had his best race of the year, but coming home in 7th is not where he really wants to be. But, as he puts it himself, "this is our potential." The new engine - probably a minor variation on the current engine, most likely with some head work to make it less peaky, rather than the narrow angle V that is needed to solve the understeer problems - will feature a few new parts to provide a smoother power delivery. Whether those parts include a new crankshaft to take the bike out to 1000cc, rather than the 930cc it currently almost certainly is, given that it has been clocked revving to around 17,500 rpm, remains to be seen.

The other major lesson - perhaps two major lessons - we learned today is the depth of reliance on electronics that modern-day MotoGP bikes have. Nicky Hayden's miserable race - his words, not mine - were down to the ECU being confused and thinking that the bike was somewhere completely different on the track. Hayden's lap times kept appearing as he crossed the timing loop on the back straight, rather than on the finish line, and the bike was altering the power map on the fly - as all these bikes do - for each corner where it thought the corners were, rather than where they actually were. Where it needed power, the GP12 had its power cut right back. Where it needed less, such as at the chicane, it had full power, making it difficult to control.

Without confirmation from Ducati - and good luck getting that - it seems that there were two problems with Hayden's bike. The first is that the ECU was reading the wrong timing loop, and thinking that the one where the second split is measured was the one at the finish line. The second is a more fundamental programming one, of trusting your data. Using just a single parameter - the timing loops which run under the circuit - to measure your position on the track, and extrapolating from there - is efficient, but as Nicky Hayden found out, occasionally prone to error. Better to confirm your assumptions against the data gathered from the bike: Estoril's front straight and back chicane are such clear markers in terms of gearing, revs, throttle and lean angle, all of which are logged, that it should not be too difficult to recalibrate the position of the bike using that data.

Alternatively, you could just use a GPS, or at least you could if they were not banned. Only the GPS provided by the organization is allowed to be used, and that only to provide information for the TV feed and live timing app. A relatively cheap part and another input requiring little extra programming would have saved Hayden's race.

If you're determined to cut electronics, then the way to avoid situations like this is by removing the ride-by-wire from the primary butterfly valves which are operated electronically in each throttle body. Currently, both valves are under electronic control, and that means that the bike provides the the power that it thinks the rider needs, rather than what the rider wants. In some corners, Lorenzo's crew chief Ramon Forcada explained to me, when you open the throttle, the actual butterfly valves may open just 50%. If those valves were operated by a cable, then the would provide exactly as much throttle as the rider had asked for. These riders are professionals; they can handle that.

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Electronics rue the day again for a rider. I'll post it again:


Seeing the bikes completely crossed up on corner exit is a thing us old men remember.

This race, with that visible chatter on the 213v just cemented the championship. When Honda cures that chatter problem we will be right back where 2011 left off. The Honda dominates out of the turns on corner exits. It comes off the corners better than the others. When that issue gets solved, it's game over Mario.

Superb ride by Stoner. Lorenzo is going to need a new engine AND for Honda to keep having problems to stop Stoner from putting his hands on the 2012 Trophy. It will take a miracle or very unlikely circumstances for anything but.


No sir, Cal's words were not exaggerated. 1s was a carefully maintained lead. Casey only pushed when he needed to, that was pretty clear. To maintain that kind of gap, as he did in Jerez, shows the gap might as well have been 5s, as George never looked like he was going to pass, let alone show Casey a wheel.

You've shown a bit of anti-Stoner sentiment here. I can see the me-toos now jumping on and calling Stoner boring, calling MotoGP boring, lamenting the fact there was barely any overtaking, that 1000's are just as bad now as 800's, etc etc. I find this a disspointing angle you have taken, and certainly a long way form being impartial journalism. In Casey's words 'I'm not going to slow down and let them catch up. The rest of the field will have to go faster'. Amen.

"These are the people who pay his wages, and on occasion, it would be good for him to take them into consideration."

You call for Casey to race according to what MotoGP fans want ?? Stoner is not the fans darling, he never will be someone like Rossi who fawns over the public, craves acceptance, craves publicity, loves the hero-worship. Stoner could care less - he is as pure a racer as they come.

Stoner and Honda have set the bar sky-high. To me, this means the field will have to push in all sorts of areas to try and be competitive. Boring ? Absolutely not. A fantastic racing spectacle is nice, but racing will not deliver you that every time. Deal with it.

I reckon you're being a little unfair to David, he's given him a huge wrap up for the majority of the article and discussed the only one thing he sees as a possible chink in his armour.

David has been copping flak from both the CS27 and VR46 fan base, so I reckon he has it about right (and I'm an unabashed Casey fan)

A actually disagree with his assessment, or at least believe there's justification for CS's apparent lack of PR skills, as IMO Casey has been burnt by the majority of English, Italian and Spanish speaking GP racing media from '07 till '10.

The selective reporting, comments taken out of context and downright incorrect assumptions (remember the 'Playstation Kid' comments and how the Ducati was far and away the best bike on the grid ?) have helped fuel a healthy distrust of anyone that shoves a mic or recorder under Casey's nose.

He also appears, at least to this mechanics amateur understanding of psychology, a classic introvert (google Meyers-Briggs personality profiles) which doesn't help someone shine in a large group or crowd situation.

I think you are misinterpreting what David is saying though, I don't see him calling for Casey to play games on the track, just maybe make himself more available to the press and crowds so they can see a little of the real person, not what has been (incorrectly) presented to the public over the last five seasons.

The fierce loyalty of Casey's crew and supporters, including those from his old team say to me he's a person of integrity and character, it's just a shame the average fan doesn't get to see this, but as you say, Casey doesn't seem to care.

Unfortunately, introverts don't 'sell well' on TeeVee.

IMO, people have already seen the 'real' Casey, and the majority have judged him harshly. If you don't wink and wave and snigger at the camera like the Yellow Clown, you're 'boring' or 'stuck up' or whatever. Unfortunate but true. (Most of western culture has long underrated introverts, and this trend has only gotten worse as the TeeVee Age poisons our culture with Snooki and her ilk.)

Given the manner in which the media can/will twist and distort any available news to better support the agenda-of-the-day, I think Stoner's tacit "f**k off" attitude toward the talking heads is fully justified.

Let me throw out one more off-the-wall observation: I'd go so far as to predict that most long-time Stoner fans are themselves introverts. Am I right? ;)

I suspect that the intent of DE's words are being mis-interpreted - he is in turn asking the question that people would ask given the small winning margin, and then answering that question by referring directly to the horses mouth, so to speak.

I thought it was a good article that paid appropriate tribute to the talent of Casey Stoner.

I may well be wrong but to me you seem to have read far more into David's comments regarding Stoner that I did at first read, and again upon re-read after seeing your comments.

Yes David does criticise Stoner and his 'apparent' lack of realisation as to who it is who truly pays his (Stoner's) wages, and yes I do see this as a fair comment although I do not necessarily see it is a critical comment. I am sure that David is aware that Stoner is often very approachable when not in 'race' mode (as stories told to me by people who have met him) but it is again fair that Stoner does not 'absorb' himself as much as other riders in the 'fan dom'.

That said however, after the Estoril race it was interesting that Stoner seemed to really be excited and waved or acknowledged the officials and crowd far more than normal which I noticed immediately.

The situation seems to be that Stoner is not a publicity seeker in any way and as such will be judged against those that are far more publicity seeking or savvy/comfortable. It is sadly also a reality that some people (not David) will weigh this into discussion regarding a rider's entertainment value, but give me the poetry of Stoner on the bike anyday and I will take it over a fake smile put there because a camerais/was present (as we sadly see to often across the sport)

I was fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with Stoner at Donington in 2007 and it was immediately obvious that he was very shy and retiring but, at the same time, incredibly polite and well-mannered. He may not be the most media-friendly person in the universe but one thing I'm 100% certain of is that his comments are from a position of absolute and often brutal honesty.

I think it really is time to take a long hard look at moto2 and apply some, if not all of the principals from that class to motogp. I don't know why but today was one of the first occasions when it seemed to me like pedrosa and lorenzo almost 'settled' for second and third place and that for all their efforts they couldn't race with stoner. That is, of course pure speculation and i think having seen the incredible efforts of Pol Espagaro in the moto2 race i was expecting something of the same in the motogp race. The over importance of electronics has been discussed a million times over but it is time something was done. I have nothing against stoner, his job, after all is to crush the opposition but to the casual viewer this is not the kind of racing that would make me a fan. Its a shame really but changing to 1000cc has ultimately changed nothing and i wonder if we will get to see even one race which has the kind of intensity that we saw at laguna seca with casey and rossi and catulunya with rossi and lorenzo. It must be hard for eurosport to decide on a 'race of the year' these days....

Paddy, I agree with you.

When MotoGP mourned last October at the passing of SuperSic, it was because of love that we had for him as the sweet young man enjoying life off track, but more for the man he was with his visor down on track. A guy with the heart of a lion and someone driven to win. He was someone that we fans had been craving because of how genuine and determined he was.

Cal Crutchlow has that same thing that we fans can identify with on track and why it was that yesterday during QP I shouted when he had Pole for that brief second - I will grant in advance his off track demeanor is a little more surly! But we want to root for men that want mix it up and fight.

Juxtapose that with the prima donna and pretender that is #99 - calling for team orders the thrid race into the season. I find that disgusting - a strong word, i know, but that is what it is.

I disagree with what David wrote, that Casey clears off too much. He is willing to scrap, as the last few Laguna Secas will speak to, but someone has to be able to catch him first.

Side note, but I feel like I should soon be changing my name to Spies for WSBK

"I disagree with what David wrote, that Casey clears off too much. He is willing to scrap, as the last few Laguna Secas will speak to, but someone has to be able to catch him first."

Indeed. After Jerez I commented here at MM on how Lorenzo had it in his head that all he had to do was stay with Casey until the end of a race and then he'd have a chance to beat him - well, for the second race in a row he's been there, but at the same time been nowhere...

And I'm starting to wonder whether Casey has learned to win at the slowest possible pace? If I were a conspiracy theorist I'd then get to wondering whether he wants to ensure another title so he can disappear and become a professional fisherman and full-time dad in 2013...

I don't know why but today was one of the first occasions when it seemed to me like pedrosa and lorenzo almost 'settled' for second and third place and that for all their efforts they couldn't race with stoner.

I can offer an explanation: If the guy in front of you presses the last 1/100's out of his bike, and you're doing it too, if you and your competitor are so much on the edge that even braking 1 meter later would certainly throw you in the grawel, how will you then brake 5 meters later to make the pass? This will never work, this cannot work.

The reason why we don't see lots of passing maneuvers is simple: if the bikes + riders have identical pace we don't see overtakes because of the reason which I just described. If one rider is faster than the other, he will make the pass and be gone, we'll see exactly 1 overtaking move. And that's exactly what MotoGP is today.

If MotoGP should become more of a spectacle again, the bikes have to become less precise, the tires need to smear a lot and degrade quickly, the suspension has to give vague and inconsistent feedback.

You're spot on regarding the precision of bikes and racers not adding to the spectacle, but I respectfully disagree with your first point, blaming identical pace for the scarcity of overtakes. Best example: Moto2 of course. And yes, Marquez, Luthi, Espargaro are riding close to the edge, close to perfection. That didn't stop Espargaro from overtaking Marquez 3-4 times in the last lap, only to be overtaken equally many and find himself still at 2nd place, but a few seconds further behind than what he would have, had he been pulling a Lorenzo ("2nd place is good"). True, this attitude (Lorenzo's) wins championships, but this is the reason for the lack of overtakes, not the equality of the machines.

Best example: Moto2 of course. And yes, Marquez, Luthi, Espargaro are riding close to the edge, close to perfection.

Whether Marquez et.al. will be able to reach that level of speed that PED,STO and LOR show..., I will believe it when one of them consistently beats those 3 guys.

regarding Moto2: I don't think the comparision is valid. First, they're using Dunlop tires. As we know from WSBK this makes a huge difference. Just ask Spies.
Second, the comments from the MotoGP riders give me the impression that there is very limited space for "riding the bike the way they want it". You can frequently read that riders have to adapt their riding technics to suit these bikes. But this also means that a rider doesn't have too much room to improvise or do something different during the race which would give him the option for overtaking.
I rememeber an interview with Hayden where he explained why it's become so hard to overtake. He said that everybody is riding the same line and is braking absolutely late and on the same marker.

had he been pulling a Lorenzo ("2nd place is good").

I don't agree whith you on this. I think you have to differentiate what Lorenzo says and what he (probably) thinks: I think Lorenzo (and also Pedrosa) are fully aware that when they can't beat Stoner on 2 tracks he doesn't like, where Stoner rides a bike that suffers from sever chattering and on top of it when Stoner isn't physically fit, that they are in huge troubles. I think both PED and LOR desperately want to beat Stoner.

I guess you have a point. In another post I have also stated that the perfection of bikes and riders doesn't allow for that much overtaking. As you said, riders themselves admit that. But Moto2 example was just to say that similar pace IS a great recipe for close battles, regardless of other factors (tyres, engines etc) that do play a role as well. And despite how these young guys will do if and when they join motogp, they are currently on top of their game in moto2. I guess I agree with the spirit of your original post, just not that particular isolated phrase.

On the Lorenzo front, yes, he and Pedrosa are in trouble and they know it. But it just felt a bit disappointing seeing them three running within a second of each other for the whole race with no hint of a move. Even if Stoner was managing the gap and the others were doing their best, I would at least expect some battle for 2nd. The fact that Honda and Yamaha did better in different parts of the circuit should have helped. Anyway, perhaps I had too high expectations from the 1000s and so far it feels like not much has changed since the 800s. We'll stick around and see how the season unfolds...

What Moto2 principles should be applied to MotoGP? Spec production engine? Spec ECU? No factory teams? Rev-limited competition?

If all of those changes were made, the racing probably wouldn't improve. As motorcycles move north of 200hp, fewer riders have the skill set necessary to ride the bike at 10/10. Furthermore, the drafting effect disappears so the gaps never normalize on the straight. How close is the racing in WSBK these days compared to the less powerful 750cc era? WSBK is basically the same general concept as Moto2, with more powerful electronics.

The 2006 season was probably the best 990cc season, yet it was fuel-limited, and it had the most sophisticated electronics of that 5-year era. What rider aids have been added since 2006? AFAIK, none. The factories have added advanced fuel computers, they've integrated the fuel computers into all systems, and they've created adaptive learning functions.

The main difference between 2006 and 2012 is the tires. When the tire war was on, everyone was playing the same risk-reward casino game. How soft can we go on the tires before they fall apart? The tires had more performance than the riders used on a lap-by-lap basis so overtaking was a breeze. As long as the overtaking wasn't too aggressive and frequent, the riders could make dozens of moves without overtaxing the tires. The top riders often chose to ride a conservative pace b/c overriding the tires in the early stages created the possibility of finishing in the bottom half of the top ten. Most importantly, it's difficult to refine the electronics if different tires are being flown to the race track every Saturday night.

It's the first time I've been really disappointed in an MM report, so I reckon the various guys on here with more polarised opinions than myself will feast on it. I'll steer clear of the obvious Stoner/Rossi fire that David claims to be tired of but which he has perfectly fanned in this report.

On other points, I'm really amazed if Ducati really is running something around 930cc. History tells us that attempts to run at sub-class capacity always end up punched out to the maximum.

Regarding removing FBW - I'm sure the fans would all breathe a sigh of relief with the prospect of a return to the tyre smoking early 990's. But really, I think time has moved on and nothing will get back to those days - they were under-developed brutes and they (factories, suspension, tyres et al) were too busy working out the big stuff to worry about the details. If the rules (except perhaps spec tyre) had not been changed at all we'd probably still be basically where we are today. Banning FBW would only lead to development of engine control by some other more nefarious means (spec ECU notwithstanding).

The Ducati's typical shift points, as well as maximum observed RPM, are 1200~1300 RPM higher than anything else on the grid. It's hit ~17,650 during WOT on occasion. Barring the installation of alien technology, the most likely explanation is a short-stroke engine.

Let's also not forget that the desmodromic valve actuation used by the Ducatis throws displacement guessing via RPM's a little skewed. Unlike the Japanese and their valve springs (or newmatics) the Ducatis can just keep on revving...

I'm glad this article has highlited how important a roll in performance ride-by-wire systems have. I've already commented as such here on MM. Arguments about who has the finest throttle control are silly as the reality is riders are only ever partially in control anyways.

Now as far as David's writing goes, I'm of the general opinion that it is BY FAR the most in depth, and well reported writing of our beloved sport. Does the man have the right to post his own opinions? Of course, these are his articles, and therefore a reflection of his own personal thoughts on the matter. David's ability to give his take while also giving you the broad picture so you can formulate YOUR OWN OPINION is what makes him a good writer and reporter in general.

Still, it's good to see a difference of opinion. I know I have learned a lot from not only reading David's work, but also some of the better comments on this site. Comments on MM span the whole spectrum from insightful and amusing to the downright hateful and offensive. David has done a commendable job of keeping the site unpartial, but still clean by removing some "silly" comments.

For this David, I am eternally grateful. Keep up the good work sir! :)

I agree Breganzane.

Sorry David, but this is one of the worst articles I have ever read here. Where you have previously held your standards higher than the very depths of shithouse journalism surrounding our sport (and enforced those standards with an iron fist on your own forums), this piece of work appears to be a forced effort to express your very own frustrations. That's fine of course, but perhaps it's better suited to a future David Emmett blog, or twitter rage.

Please do not speak on behalf of MotoGP fans - because they aren't only split right down the middle, but are also sliced up into many different pieces of pie - all having their own likes and dislikes, and what they feel satisfies their craving for 'entertainment'.

Me personally, I just want to see the best racers in the world go at it. I don't care for Rossi's post-race celebrations.. a big standing wheelie or passionate fist punch is enough for me. I don't care if the winner wins by 2mins or .002 seconds. Yes I'd love to see a heap of passes.. but we are talking about the very top guys in the world here. The best of the best. On the best machinery. To see them on the timesheets within half a second of each other.. consistently, on whatever track you throw at them - that there is astounding enough to keep me interested. Watching Stoner throw the RCV around, or seeing Lorenzo slice through the chicane like a hot knife through butter.. that's entertainment to me. In super slow mo it's almost better than sex (and my sex life isn't that bad either!).

Like it or not, he's there to race. The sponsors don't appear to be caring as much as you apparently do, and why is that? Because Repsol and Honda get more airtime than anyone at the moment. Why? Because he's #1 and because he wins races. Not because he's a darling of the sport, and if you need evidence of that.. look how much airtime Vale gets these days. Sweet FA - and they'd LOVE to be showing their prized possession.. but the results just aren't there.

Go ahead and interview someone from Marlboro or Ducati. Ask them if they had a choice, would they pay millions and millions for someone who waves at the cameras and does his little jig - but finishes mid pack, or someone who simply dominates the field and wins races? And no, in this day and age they can't have both.. they actually have to make a decision.

These guys are the best.. and the results are what they are.

Thankfully you get to watch Moto2 prior, that way you can get your fairing kissing over and done with.. then watch the elite up against one another (oh and a whole heap of slower bikes crashing and having mechanical failures that are the current effort to give you what you crave in the top category.. ha!).

Sorry mate, but you can't ask to see the absolute best guys go at it on the best machinery in the world.. and then complain about the results.

I totally agree with your comments here but the lack of 'racing' in the premier class is not something stoner has caused. I'm perfectly fine with him dominating the field if he's the best rider but the fact that there is absolutely no racing, no overtaking anywhere down the field is getting to me. This is what frustrates me, arguably if the every rider was on CRT's (for example) maybe stoner would still run away with it but we would see some great battles throughout the field. If someone had told me to watch a 125 or 250 race in the past in order to ' get my fairing kissing over and done with' i would have shunned them. i mean honestly is that really what we expect of motogp these days, that there will be no overtaking, that we should accept its going to be processional and from your point of view be happy with what we have.....

No Paddy, I agree.. of course I want to see fairing bashing. I want to see close racing too.

A little off topic, but in a similar vein;

Back when Mixed Martial Arts was getting off the ground, wrestlers were dominating the sport with their ability to take the fight to the ground and basically lay (lay and pray as we used to say) on the other guy and win on points. I hated it, but used to have the opinion that if this is what aspect of fighting was dominating (the wrestling), I'd just have to suck it up.. because that's what I wanted to see. The best against the best.

Ultimately the sport evolved somewhat, not thanks to a change of rules.. but an evolution of the fighters skill sets. Strikers were able to defend getting taken down better, Jui-Jitsu guys were controlling the wrestlers on the ground.. and these days there isn't even really a true 'strength' to fall back on.. because the guys are true mixed martial artists. They train in anything and everything.

Cal Crutchlow's reply to Dovi's comments about him having a 'superbike style' was that over the last year he has studied data, watched video, studied riding styles.. and has learnt how to be a MotoGP rider. Maybe the ticket isn't sitting on your hands and hoping for a rule change, or a bike change.. but to adapt and be the best racer you can be. These top three (+1) guys, and the solo win by Spies are the only race winners since Vermulen and Capirossi getting a victory each in 2007! These guys are just THAT good.

It's really on those OTHER riders, you know the ones with the same machinery, to step up and win races too. The Edwards, Dovizioso's, Melandri's, Hayden's of this world. If that means studying other riders, adjusting your style, doing whatever it takes - then that's what it takes.

Don't blame those top guys. Blame the guys not prepared to do what it apparently takes to be up there.

yeah i agree with your comments 100 percent, however i don't think that its for lack of effort that riders struggle to adapt and i would say ALL of the guys on that grid are prepared to do exactly what it takes to be up there. What i mean is adapting to a GP bike is often a task which some of the most talented guys simply cant do. I look at guys like toseland on the yamaha, elias last year, melandri at ducati, aoyama last year who all 'failed' to adapt to a bike, something which i wouldn't put down to a lack of talent. these guys are all world champions and for whatever reason, tyres, electronics, the brakes, prototype chassis, riding style, confidence, health etc couldn't 'step up'. I guess what it shows us is that in cal's case it takes a very logical, step by step approach to riding a gp bike, something which i would say spies also did very well. But also that the talent of those top 3 or 4 riders, like you said, is just that bit greater than the rest, meaning there will always be a margin between them and the rest of the field.

While I think you are being a bit harsh on David for voicing an opinion, and then you proceed to have your own myopic rant.

I do agree however that I am getting tired with all of the posters complaining about the (lack of) racing. Why don't they just go away like they keep threatening and leave us true fans in peace. If Rossi retiring means that they will go away then bring it on. I have been a fan since 1970 and hope to have many more in the future.

The battle for Estoril was fascinating, there doesn't have to be fairing bashing to be kept on the edge of your seat, watching the splits and how Casey and Jorge fought it out was exceptional, I honestly thought that Casey had blown it by going to early, and then to realize that Casey still had a little extra, sensational.

Dave, you do a great job of balancing your reporting, to the extent that I don't believe that you actually do have a favorite, other than the sport itself, keep it up.

I would loose respect for any man that played cat and mouse games with his opponents to create false spectacle.

Motogp is what it is, and will be for as long as stoner has his head on straight and is on competitive machinery. I suspect that the removal of electronics would increase the action through the field, but ultimately would increase stoner's dominance at the sharp end.

Much as I admired the early Valentino, I couldn't come to terms with his Macchiavellian game playing (on and off the track) and that's what tired me of him.
"When the flag drops, the bullshit stops."
This axiom has stood the test of time, and long may it stay that way.

You would think that the various computer systems would have a 'reset' or 'synch' function that the rider could use when/if the computer glitches. I'm really surprised that the corner-by-corner mapping lacks a 'disable' option as well as a way to manually synch the dumb thing if it gets confused. These seem to be basic, obviously useful features....

Engineers of all types tend to possess rather limited imaginations, and are often confounded when their carefully designed gadgets encounter the real world - and fall flat on their face.

Great video, Brick!

If the new Ducati engine has a notably lower exhaust tone, we can probably assume that the 'Real 1000cc' bike has arrived! What are the odds of Ducati releasing onboard video/audio from Monday's 'New Engine' test? (Zero to none, I'd guess!)

Are GPS based systems allowed ?
Or are they beacon triggered ?

Anyone of a certain vintage would well remember when Pi and Motec data logging systems first became available, with everyone setting their beacons up and down the pit wall and trying to find a frequency that wasn't being used.

Engineers have limited imagination Geonerd...are you kidding?? Look around you, we are surrounded by the products of engineering imagination. Engineers put men on the moon, was that a lack of imagination? Having worked with thousands of engineers over the years in many different specialities I find your comment seriously misguided and insulting.

I understood what Geonerd was implying - of course the best engineers are blessed with remarkable imagination, but give an engineer a pet project and it is entirely possible, if not likely, that they may become so wrapped up with their solution that they subconciously blank out any possible negatives, even those that might be immediately obvious to another party.

The Tacuma Narrows bridge comes to mind...

Hum... Fukushima comes to mind... We've never had a tsunami that big, the generators will be fine!" Go ahead and be 'insulted' but I'll stand by my original statement: Engineers often rely a little too much on data and tables and can't always back off and ask, "But what if, against the odds, XY does occur?" DC-10 cargo doors, space shuttle O-rings, etc., etc., etc. In all these cases, the 'data' said that the system would work just fine. The real world disagreed. People died. You want to worship engineers? Be my guest, but ask yourself: Do you think engineers are magically immune to the hubris and arrogance that worship will engender?

And so, when Nicky's computer got dizzy, there was no way it could fix itself or be reset. Yea, I know. It's a prototype motorcycle, not an airliner. But still....

Geonerd you don't seem to understand the concept of risk management as applied to engineering design. Nothing designed by humans can ever be foolproof, and that includes nuclear reactors.

All buildings, planes, power plants and so on are designed to withstand extreme forces based on the probability of some extreme event occurring, for example a magnitude 9 earthquake every one hundred years. In other words, design is based on probability. An engineer is always required to back off and ask what are the odds of an event occurring, it's a critical part of the design process. So when something like a plane or a nuclear plant is designed, the engineers take a calculated risk that certain extreme events will not occur. Sometimes they are wrong but they know beforehand that there is a risk of being wrong. That's why we have insurance. The trick is to make that risk as small as possible within economic restraints. But to expect any human being to foresee every possible risk and potential source of failure is nonsensical. We are just not that smart. That's why learning from experience is so important. Your claim that engineers as a particular group lack imagination is just plain wrong.

Geonerd, are you serious?

Your example works against you. The shuttle Challenger loss is widely attributed to poor management, not engineering. Engineering had warned NASA management about the O-Ring flaw (the SRBs were being operated outside of their temperature tolerance due to those O-Rings), and the management decided to proceed anyway.

Do you think managers are magically immune to the hubris and arrogance that worship will engender?

Don't be a fool, man.


As an engineer myself I'll add my 2 cents. Engineers don't work in a vacuum. Designs are mitigated by, among other things, complexity, budget, schedules, limits of the previous designs, backward compatibility requirements, and... gosh, this is too boring and unimaginative.

You want more imagination in your racing? Buy a couple of Minichamps 1:12 scale bikes of Lorenzo and Stoner, get a nice office chair that rotates really well, then hold the bikes up and spin around and around in the chair while making really neat engine noises.


Pure rubbish to say engineers are lacking imagination. Should we let poets design the systems?

It's a prototype racing motorcycle. There is no possible justification for putting more buttons on the dash to deal with a situation that might possibly happen under a full moon.

It's like arguing they should all carry starter motors in case they stall it. Or maybe they should all carry spare tires in case of a puncture. Or that time Hayden's knee slider came off. Why was he not imaginative enough to carry a spare in his pocket?

It's a once in a life time thing. It happens. If it happens again.. then you have a place to argue from.

I don't think there is anyone out there that ever would question why Stoner has won two MotoGP championships; however, I think many of these comments are hyperbole.

The top three riders ran +- 1/10 of a second laptimes of each other.

I hardly call that 'dominating' (my word to describe your words).

Sure, Stoner had chatter; but Lorenzo had a burned clutched and Pedrosa had mid-corner issues.

Personally, I think if all three remain healthy, we are in for some real tight racing all year long.

Artificially contrived racing of the type Rossi used to dish up ten years ago turned MotoGP into a circus that was about as legitimate a sporting spectacle as professional (WWE/TNA style) wrestling. Anyone who understood motorcycle racing knew that Rossi was in a different class to the rest, so why the silly games? Unfortunately a lot of people like that kind of make believe stuff. In any case, Biaggi and Gibernau were highly susceptible to mind games. Even in WSBK Biaggi manages to have at least one meltdown every year. I think Lorenzo and Pedrosa are made of sterner stuff. And Stoner prefers the Doohan rather than the Rossi model.

I understand the concerns people have about processional racing, but what are the alternatives when a rider is an exceptional talent? In athletics, when someone wins by a big margin (Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200 meters for example) it is universally celebrated as a great achievement. If Stoner leaves the rest of the riders in his dust people whinge about boring racing. Do we really want to handicap talent and turn MotoGP into Nascar?

People talk about Moto2 and Moto3, or even BSB and WSBK, but then we are talking about bikes that are relatively much easier to ride. So of course the racing will be closer, because the big talents don't have as big a margin to the other guys.

What MotoGP needs is for guys like Crutchlow, Spies and Dovizioso to get their acts together and at least be racing each other close to the front. Plus Ducati to sort out their troubles and become competitive. But all much easier said than done.

If Stoner and Honda are able to crush the opposition and win from the front, more power to them. Niether should feel obliged to engage in fake competition to satisfy the punters. Its the job of the other teams to lift their game and produce REAL competition.

"Artificially contrived racing of the type Rossi used to dish up ten years ago turned MotoGP into a circus that was about as legitimate a sporting spectacle as professional (WWE/TNA style) wrestling"

That is one of the most ridiculous things I have read on here. So you think Rossi invented the style of racing where a faster rider would sit behind a slower rider and pressure him into a mistake? And you call this racing "artificially contrived"... good lord.

Rossi may have been dominate, but not 5 seconds a lap dominate. It was his style to pressure riders into a mistake. Which served him very well for gaining an advantage mentally on and off the track. But, again, Rossi did not come close to inventing this, and still a very effective way to race. And, if called upon, Stoner would apply in a heart beat if he needed to.

Pity you didn't read and understand what was said by David, and in my comments Backmarker61.

"Perhaps once he realizes he is so much faster than anyone else, he will ease up and start to toy with the others the way that Valentino Rossi toyed with Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau nearly ten years ago. But where Rossi was like a cat playing with a mouse he had caught, Stoner is more like a shark: attack, take one bite, kill your prey, and move on to the next one."

Rossi could have cleared out and won with ease much of the time, especially in his Honda years when that bike was so superior (remember Phillip Island 2003), but he chose to play around and make a show of racing. He didn't need to pressure anyone, he could pass them any time he wanted and disappear into the distance. Even Agostini has commented on this Rossi showmanship during those years. Some people think that this playing around by Rossi was good for the show, and David is suggesting that Stoner could do the same to spice up the racing, a point of view I can actually understand, but some people (like me) think that this sham racing. But I do confess to being a racing purist, not a casual race fan.

Didn't read your post? I quoted you.

And if being a self-appointed "racing purist" means blind fan boy-ism and disrespect to previous champions, then you can have it.

Right, so when Agostini commented on the way Rossi played with his opponents to create a show, something he said he never did, was he also displaying blind fanboyism and disrespect? Is anyone denying as a matter of fact that Rossi toyed with his opponents a decade ago? Some people would say, with justification, that Rossi was just displaying supreme confidence in his ability. What Rossi did was to create an illusion of real racing, to put on a show for the fans. Nascar has being doing something similar for years. Some people like that kind of illusion, some people don't. In fact, a lot of fans adore Rossi for his showmanship. But I appreciate Rossi the racer, undoubtedly one of the best ever, not Rossi the illusionist.

I can totally appreciate the showmanship. It was very entertaining and it was very Rossi. But it's not Stoner. I don't think trying to get Stoner to act more like Rossi is a very good solution. as I said elsewhere on this thread, Stoner is very much his own man.

I want to be clear that I am not advocating that Stoner should change his riding to affect "the show". But, your comments about Rossi's races being "artificially contrived", "a sham", and "like the WWE" (again, seriously?) were waaay over the top and just plain disrespectful of a past champion.

I see this being suggested as the sure-fire 'cure' for Ducati's woes, but I'd like to know where this claim comes from and what basis there is for it, other than being another 'I reckon' engineering solution.

Surely, if Ducati thought that was the problem, they would have addressed it by now... so perhaps they may know something outsiders don't? Just saying...

was what crossed my mind a few minutes after the race was over. If Stoner can beat a top of his game Lorenzo while managing chatter, tyre wear, arm pump and whatnot, who will stop him once the chatter is over and his arm is fine?

Thanks David,

This article expressed exactly my thoughts,if Casey can already win under these circumstances I can see nobody coming close to Casey when Honda solves these chatter problems..

Btw, I found it very intresting to hear the way Casey spoke about what he had find out in the Qatar race, about how Yamaha have giving in some of their strong points in cornering.. This was clearly giving Casey so much more confidence, I wonder what he was so afraid of?

Insightful article and written with a little mustard on it, and that's great, however I share some of the opinions of the above.

One question; I would never say that Casey isn't afraid to fight(as was stated in the article). I'm just trying to remember the times he did fight and has won. I'm curious.

2008 for example: Laguna, fighting he crashed and lost. The next two races, San Marino and Brno, frustrated by his inability to shake Rossi, he crashed and lost. That was three races in row and it was evident Rossi's mind games were in full effect. Even Ducati had to tell Casey to close his mouth and just race. Surely I'm not the only one who remembers this. Please feel free to remind me....because I'm not saying he never fights and wins, I'm just coming up blank as to when.

Qatar this year; was it his unwillingness to fight that drove him to check out, thus burning up his tires allowing Lorenzo and Pedrosa to pass? I don't know, I'm just saying.

He is the fastest rider in the planet at the moment, and it's scary to think what can happen if/when Honda can sort out the issues. I really hope Yamaha/Lorenzo can step it up, otherwise Stoner is gonna make everyone look silly.....again. But for racing fans in general, let's hope Yamaha can battle. But it still might be a little early to crown Stoner the GOAT.

And like David alluded to, there's a lot to be said about personality, charisma, attitude and likeabilty.....at least the sponsors, TV, media, millions of fans, and Dorna think so.

Start with China 2007 and Catalunya 2007. Catalunya 2007 was possibly the greatest 800 era race, which was widely expected to be a cakewalk for Rossi. Stoner had other ideas. It's curious that LS08 is often mentioned, yet Catalunya 07 was a far better race, all the way to the finish line, with Rossi and Stoner swapping the lead several times at different parts of the track.

This is true, but as a Stoner fan, I can admit that the Yamaha of Rossi never stood a chance against the Ducati on the long straights of Shanghai (and Qatar for that matter). I think the M1 was down on top speed by like 10-15 mph then. Knife to a gun fight comes to mind.

The difference in top speed at China 2007 was 333.5 to 325.7, so 7.8 kph, not as much as is commonly believed. The big difference in top speed seen at Qatar largely disappeared as the year went on. If I recall correctly Yamaha got Rossi's fuel mapping wrong at Qatar, so he was artificially down on power, hence the huge speed difference. The difference in fastest lap at China was just a miniscule 0.027 seconds. Yes the Ducati was a bit faster down the straights but the Yamaha was much stronger under brakes and mid corner. So no, Rossi wasn't bringing a knife to a gunfight in China 07.

How many times do we have to go over this? There is little to no relationship between which bike has the highest top speed and which one can do the quickest laps. Sometimes it's the same one, frequently it's not. I went to a trackday on Friday, 4 days ago, with my son. His first ever track day. We took his 954 and my ZX14. In one session before lunch, we swapped bikes. I did my fastest laps of the day, with little effort and no familiarity, on the 'Blade. But the 14 was always faster at the ends of the straights - so it should have won, right?

Every Desmocedici has been strong on the straights. But as an overall package they've usually been inferior to the Hondas and the Yamahas, by a variable margin.

I'm much more of a Rossi fan than a Stoner fan, but I think San Marino and Brno were more about the Ducati than Stoner. Laguna Seca wasn't really a crash, he ran off track and it tipped over in the gravel, and they both were far enough ahead of the field that Stoner could pick up his bike and still finish second.

Here's a couple examples of Stoner winning close races: Valencia 2011 (wet), Philip Island 2009, Mugello 2009 (wet), Catalunya 2007 (dry)

There aren't that many close races in MotoGP now, but this isn't a lot for as many races as Stoner has won over those years. He does have quite a few wins by several seconds or more though, so we'll see if he starts doing that in 2012 or if Lorenzo and Pedrosa are able to keep him in sight.

"To my mind, Casey Stoner has just one major fault: he believes Honda pays him to race motorcycles."

Why indeed would Stoner consider otherwise? Honda is his major employer and Honda knew exactly what they were getting for the money - and that wasn't Mr. Congeniality. They bought Rider Stoner, not Brand Stoner. He is a natural introvert and a very, very typical Aussie country kid - serious, loyal, and hardworking. There's a cultural divide from the cosmopolitan Latin temperament, where social affability is a valued and respected commodity and which Rossi and Simoncelli exemplifies/ied. Australians fairly generally judge you by what you do rather than how you present, though that is changing.

That does not mean any disrespect to the Latin temperament: Rossi is a natural extrovert, and has bought immeasurable kudos to motoGp racing as a sport of intelligent, likable people. Paolo Simoncelli last year bought to the sport one of the greatest examples of gentle nobility in the face of personal tragedy we have seen, and in so doing I believe also raised the general pubic consciousness of motoGp racer's personas as something more than just thrill-seeking daredevils. MotoGp has benefited greatly from these examples - but has failed to also capitalise on other stories, and Stoner (and equally Lorenzo and Pedrosa, amongst others) are no less interesting characters - just less flamboyant.

Stoner's venture into Twitter has shown that, far from being a colourless character, he has a keen and ready wit. He just doesn't stride a stage comfortably, he doesn't 'play the room' at all well - in fact, he''d rather not be IN the room at all, most of the time. Anybody who is familiar with the character of Hailwood will instantly recognise parallels - and those extend to the riding ability.

I believe that for Stoner to try to present a faux persona to the world would be a mistake. Lorenzo tried that in 2010, and pretty generally it was not appreciated (though in Lorenzo's case, it may well have been specifically targeted at annoying Rossi, and was damn successful at that.) I think the 'problem' with Stoner's persona is not at all a problem as such - it is a failure on the part of Dorna to capitalise on the specific story Stoner brings to motoGp.

David - I noticed in one of your tweets, a comment that Stoner is one of the most interesting to interview, as he brings a deep technical knowledge to the responses. Would it not be fair to infer from that that Stoner responds to questions from the press as requests for information - not invitations to entertain? Is there not a story to be drawn from that? - and that story is that racing at this level is a highly technical and involving sport, not just gladiatorial combat?

The idea that a 'failure' on the part of Stoner to present to the world a lovable 'character' and the conclusion that this is likely to diminish the appeal of the sport to the general public is not a sine qua non. Can I introduce the parallel example of Pete Sampras on world tennis - hardly an enthralling character, but the sport certainly did not suffer from that. The 'problem' is not Stoner's character, but generating interest in the story that that particular character presents. There is an opportunity in every situation - making the most of an ebullient character such as Rossi is easy, winnowing wheat from chaff for the Stoner's, Lorenzo's and Pedrosa's of the world is harder. However, the rewards are there to be taken, it just requires a change in mindset.

to me the sign of good article is that it generates a great deal of discussion. It doesn't have to be about gaining consensus or agreement but provides an opportunity to air your views and by doing that you put your neck on the chopping block. Of course people will disagree with what you said but that's the beauty of this site. I love the diversity of opinions but don't necessarily agree with them.And that's fine. That's what makes it interesting.

I really enjoyed the article because I think you have really nailed what Casey Stoner is all about. I think he'd even agree with your summation. Maybe it's my imagination but have I recently detected a more friendly attitude towards press engagements and the like from him of late? I'm sure he'll improve in this respect over time particularly if he keeps on winning the way he does and mellows out a bit more with age.I love the fact that he tells it like it is and won't suffer fools gladly. I also love the fact that he is very quick to pick up on himself if he's made a mistake and he'll tell you that just as openly and honestly as anything else.

Nice work David, you certainly generated a lively discussion :-)

I'm sure many people here have gone to the track and experienced just how hard it is to control a motorcycle, let alone make it go fast.
Watching Casey Stoner thrash around that Honda is truly mesmerizing. He has no respect for that work of engineering genius he is sitting on - he just takes it by the horns and rides the hell out of it. That is why I watch MotoGP, to see the best ride the best bikes. If there is wheel to wheel action, great, if not - I sit back and drool over their skills. Lorenzo and Stoner are superb. I have no doubt Lorenzo is a faster rider than Rossi, and Stoner is faster still. Pedrosa seems to have all of the skill that Lorenzo has but not the same focus and determination. We are so spoilt for talent.
This is the greatest sport in the world. It needs nothing else. Sure, taking away traction control would be nice, but that isn't going to happen. And even with traction control on, the riders can turn it up or down as they please - we still see Stoner and Hayden spinning up the rear wheel all the time.
The one complaint I do have though is with Lorenzo's attitude toward winning. If you are second behind Stoner, the attitude of "I'll just hold out for 2nd" is not good for the sport - and is a reflection of a points system that needs to reward the race winner more. You can't blame Lorenzo for having that attitude, but you can blame the points system. If #1 gets 10 more points, you would have seen Lorenzo pushing harder, and you would have seen a battle for 1st.

For what it's worth, (3/5 of 5/8 of Sweet Fanny Adams) I fail to see what's wrong with the article.

As an Aussie, and a Stoner fan, I thought it accurate in the main, though I do disagree with a couple of points, but as someone earlier said, it's a chance to consider another opinion. Nothing wrong with that.

Casey is on record, (perhaps I read it here) that his wariness of the media stems from early in his career when he was left without any guidance, just plonked in front of some journos and left there..

I don't know Casey at all, but from reading various interviews with him, what David has stated is not much different from what Stoner himself has stated in the past. So I fail to see any bias for or against Stoner.

As for the race being boring or otherwise, I enjoy watching these guys ride the way they do, and in all three races this year, watching to see if Lorenzo can hunt down and pass Stoner has kept it anything but boring. Plus in this race, watchng the chatter and wondering if/when the arm pump would return.
Not to mention just the amazement that despite the chatter, he was still going full noise.

It's going to be an intesting championship race. One slip up, one injury, and it might well be the end of the battle, although with two of Stoner's less successful tracks out of the way, and the chatter to be cured, one would think Jorge might be worried.

To conclude, it's also pleasing to see the respect the top three have for each other.

Much more dignifying than some of the previous shenanigans.

Bias in the article? Don't think so.

All I can say is that this had to be one of the most boring races ever. Basically from the second turn the order was set. I'll wait to see the Moto 2 and 3 races for some real rider to rider combat as MotoGP is basically a test of engineers and programmers now it would seem. Dorna, pleeeeeeeeeeze bring back higher fuel capacity and multiple tire suppliers. This "optimize your device for 21 litres of fuel and this particular rubber" is ridiculous.

Matt, are you saying that without a fuel limit and tyre control Casey and Jorge would be mid pack and all the bikes would be within a half-second of each other each lap?

I think not!

There are plenty of examples where without fuel or tyre restrictions (during qualifying) that there is a natural gap in ability of rider and bike, please stop trying to foster this belief that the riders are all equal and it is fuel and tyres and traction control that makes a difference. What I think these dreamers are really trying to say is to let the slower teams have carte blanche to do what they want but the aliens have to stay with what they have now, well it don't work like that, it will be a level playing field for all, and the cream will still rise to the top, just as it does in every other form of motor sport where there are carefully thought out rules and limits.

You are also denigrating the engineers and teams, as well as manufacturers, by implying that they aren't capable of doing better with what they have at their disposal, this is the pinnacle of the sport, the best of the best, and some are just that little bit better than others.

I wish we would stop getting these stupid responses blaming technology, they have no validity or basis in fact.

All I can say is that this had to be one of the most boring races ever. Basically from the second turn the order was set. I'll wait to see the Moto 2 and 3 races for some real rider to rider combat as MotoGP is basically a test of engineers and programmers now it would seem. Dorna, pleeeeeeeeeeze bring back higher fuel capacity and multiple tire suppliers. This "optimize your device for 21 litres of fuel and this particular rubber" is ridiculous.

I can't disagree with what David wrote and, more importantly, I don't think Stoner would disagree with it either.


New to the board. Have been reading along a long time (and I love it), but I have to ask this question:
Who is the bigger disappointment of 2012? Rossi or Spies? Rossi has finished better at every race so far, so what is going on with Spies??

Has to be Spies. Although we would all like to see Rossi and Hayden challenge for the podium on their ducats, their bike just isn't all that. Plus, Hayden and Rossi are both former world champions at the twilight of their careers. Rossi has achieved feats that make him one of the greatest and the greatest on paper. He doesn't really need to prove anything. So yeah, it is disappointing for him as we all want to see the old Rossi, but at the same time, he is still a 9-time world champion. Spies has everything to prove, a spot on probably the joint best or second best team and he is not making that bike work for him. His performance is far more disappointing. I think the Monster techs are on exactly the same bike as the factory Yamaha for now, and so Crutchlow, Dovi and Lorenzo and Spies are all riding the same machine. Only one of them is not finishing within top four - and way out of the top four for that matter. He - Spies - needs a really long test weekend to sort out his confidence.

My biggest worry is that we have 15 more to go of the same thing. I mean exactly the same.We've seen so far 3 races that were identical, save for a mild reshuffling of POS 6-12 and Crutchlow mixing it up 1/3 of the times with the guys up front. Oh yes, and the number of overtakes varies a bit but always of the order of a few -> several.

I agree it's fascinating to watch Stoner and to READ the impressive times that Jorge and Dani are posting behind (or sometimes in front of) him, but that's it. Lorenzo doesn't give Stoner a taste of hard racing as he did to Rossi. Dani is just not shooting for the title hard enough to ever win it. Seems happy to gather points and not get injured. And Stoner doesn't give a damn about what's happening behind him, and why should he?

Tyres are better this year (a good thing for someone that remembers last years 1st lap of Estoril), but maybe just too good throughout the race. Gavin Emmet has been quoting riders saying that they (tyres) can be destroyed in one lap if you try, but apart from Crutchlow nobody seems willing to test that hypothesis.

I think it all boils down to the level of perfection that both machines and riders (especially the three up front) have attained. The spirit of the 800s still lives and will do so for a long time, I think. That's one of the faces of progress. But from a fan's point of view, I'm sure most of us would like for somebody at one occasion to say "I'm going for it". We just can't/shouldn't rely on chatter, arm pump or rain to get an exciting race. Just my humble opinion. I appreciate what we have but I would like to see more action, more gambling, more racing.

For those of you that bash mind games and tactics, didn't you guys enjoy the moto3 race, especially the "after you, Sir" attitude of Cortese and Vinales at the penultimate lap? I thought it was great stuff!

>>For those of you that bash mind games and tactics, didn't you guys enjoy the moto3 race, especially the "after you, Sir" attitude of Cortese and Vinales at the penultimate lap? I thought it was great stuff!<<

Absolutely ditto!
That was actually the first thing that caught my attention in some of the posts above and got me puzzled in a "what the hell are these people about?" way.

I really think Stoner is a couple of steps above any rider in that grid if judging by body language and/or technique on the bike only (something that watching live, there at the circuit, becomes much more obvious than on TV), but the racing in itself was really, really boring. No matter how you paint it, or how much you admire the riders.

The real question here is... perhaps it's supposed to be this way? (the price of evolution?)
Perfection of both machines and riders never stops. The advances in technology/engineering for the machines are phenomenal, even if it makes the whole thing somewhat cold and "depersonalized".
Then there's the physical and psychological training of fully professional athletes, which no longer relate to the old era of insanely courageous fellas that would race with broken bones, or pop a cigarrete after the race was finished.

In anycase, I can't help but realize that those that have been watching GP's for a longer time are actually priviledged, having witnessed some amazing seasons (1991 being the best season ever, IMHO), maybe never, ever, to be repeated.
Having said that, and being aware that the last few years have not been the best for racing we've ever had (they're not), I left Estoril again with a bitter-sweet feeling, that maybe we should appreciate and savor what we have, not what we no longer have.
...who knows where the economical recession will lead things later...

There was plenty to see. The 3 leaders were close enough to put pressure on, they were all riding close to the edge, any slip would result in a change. Surely, the fact that we need to have mistakes for a change in places during a race, shouldn't diminish the race as a spectacle, if there aren't any mistakes. Other categories of races have more mistakes, simply because the quality of riders isn't as high.

There is no doubt that Rossi will go down as an all time great but in my mind, the current field is one of the strongest in years. We have 3 riders at the top of their game on quality reliable machines, 2 satellite riders just behind ready to pounce on a mistake for a podium and a couple of former champs in the field working hard to bring a new machine up to speed. What's not to like about that?

I also believe that Stoner's achievement in winning at all the current race locations is a seriously impressive achievement. Equally as impressive as Rossi achieving the same feat a few years ago.

As an interesting aside, a quick review of race history ( http://www.motogp.com/en/Results+Statistics/Statistics/winners ) reveals that Stoner has now equalled Rossi in winning at 21 different venues. Agostini won at 19 different venues in the top class.

This is my very first post & only because, IMHO, DE & MM have been unabashed Rossi acolytes right up until more recently - when this partiality became so incongruous, ridiculous & meaningless - that the editorial "slant" has been forced by events & results to level-out the playing field somewhat. This, an absolute necessity to retain any shred of gravitas & respect from the likes of myself & very probably numerous others who have been in & around peak-level racing for so long.
I applaud MM's more "technical" pieces but much of the past comment on or pertaining to Casey Stoner, has been unfair & uncalled for...

The bike media "hack-pack" is a very unlovely thing, especially when it had the years-long serial opportunity to play Mr Rossi's "mind games" & belittle & diminish Casey Stoner as a part of that process. My, my - hasn't the worm turned over 2011 & 2012?

Cal Crutchlow is absolutely correct in every respect here. The ubiquitous morons who infest many motorcycle sites & given the opportunity to comment, show their deep ignorance & mammoth inability to think & rationalise for themselves - having been led by the nose by a bike media pack intent on cheap personal shots & hyping-up & generating supposed "controversy". Can anyone imagine how Stoner felt to beat the undisputed "best" motorcycle rider in the World, not just once, but twice @ Donington & be subjected to a track invasion & the most foul, obscene & abusive crowd reaction in British GP history? And for what? Just because he beat Rossi & hardly anyone "saw him (Stoner) coming".

Where was the bike press (with the notable & heroic exception of Mat Oxley) when all this nonsense was going on in both 2007 & 2008? Far from defending or applauding Stoner, the overwhelming majority of alleged "expert professional opinion" simply mouthed & perpetuated that Stoner's Desmosedici had some "mystery advantage". This knee-jerk rubbish was so pernicious & adhesive that his bike was stripped to the last nut & bolt, not once, but twice. Although it is all crystal clear in hindsight – thrown mud sticks – unfortunately!

As well as being Rossi's media aided & abetted #1 target since 2007 - it has been Stoner's media & PR misfortune that he was just a kid brought-up & educated in a caravan whilst racing professionally all over Europe & the UK. No developed playground or debating repartee for him.

To aggravate this reality, until last season with HRC - Stoner NEVER had the benefit of any Team or PR person whom spoke English as a first language. This fact is illustrated to both hilarious & worrying extremes in Rick Broadbent’s excellent book on MotoGP, "Ring Of Fire" - where the Ducati PR woman took Broadbent to task for using the old British expression: "Stoner was spitting blood". There being no parallel for this in Italian - she was totally miffed & nonplussed - despite Broadbent's attempts to explain that Stoner wasn't doing this in reality - and that it was just a "turn of phrase". She remained very pissed-off!

With treatment like that endured for 5 long, difficult & provocative years - why should Casey Stoner bother to be more "inclusive" for alleged "fans" that are morons? And here you are now damning him with faint praise. Stoner works & rides for Honda. He doesn't do any of it for me, you or anyone else. I'm just glad to have been around to see him & what he can do. Get over it, OK? The guy is there to race & he displays for the more cultured aficionado (who appreciates him for what he is - not what he definitely isn't) his sublime & ferocious level of talent & bravery on a GP motorcycle. He is not a song & dance man, nor stand-up comic. If that's what you all want - try going to Las Vegas & taking-in a show. Give the GP stuff a miss. Cheers

Thanks for writing this ... defense of Stoner, I guy who I think is misunderstood by many. As you say, one has to admire and respect his ability to race and go fast -- it takes a lot of guts to ride on the edge like that, at those speeds on such powerful bikes (naturally all riders deserve that credit). I never took all the criticism of his personality seriously -- he always seemed OK to me, if at times a bit immature (like when he stood off to the side and derisively applauded Rossi at Le Mans in 2011), but he was pretty young after all, so give the kid a break. A lot of that criticism came from people I'll describe as Rossi 'fan boys', and to me almost always seemed childish and mean-spirited, which just made me like Stoner more as both a rider and a media person (as far as that can go -- of course I've never met him).

I can't comment on the bias at this site that you suggest.

What I can say, however, is that what gave me the most enjoyment from MotoGP in the years after 2006 was seeing the kid Stoner take it to Rossi. That's what I tuned in to see every race weekend. But this is also a tribute to Rossi, since I'd watched his unparalled racecraft in the previous years, which to me just made Stoner's achievements more impressive. It was also great to see Stoner roil the Rossi 'fan boys'.

So thanks Casey for the years of great racing, and good luck in 2012. I think you'll need it, because Lorenzo and Pedrosa are tough guys, and anything can happen when you're riding on the edge. So people may be surprised when the title stays open long into the season...

Best thing i've read in ages.

My read of the article indicate that David thinks that Stoner is probably the best rider he's ever seen.
His recent tweets seem to confirm this.
The article identifies only a single fault with Stoner and a relatively minor one at that.
I'm sure that even Stoner doesn't claim to be perfect.

I'm confused.

Stoner fans: "Stoner doesn't give a hoot what the media thinks, is honest, direct, and he is just there to to race" (which is all true)


David Emmett: "Stoner doesn't give a hoot what the media thinks, is honest, direct, and he is just there to to race"

Stoner fans: "How dare you say those things about Stoner!"

Very confusing... I know I'm making it a little simpler than it really is, but the comments I've seen knocking on the article, are re-writes of what the article actually said.

First, I thought David wrote another excellent piece and his comments
appear (to me) right on the mark.

While one can appreciate the sport if you are into all of the details (as everyone on this site is), the average consumer never will, but the latter are the ones that pay for the racing via the sponsors that support the teams. So to say that someone like Repsol only cares about winning is rather naive. They care about making a profit and if more people watch MotoGP because of close racing (with Repsol out front or nearly so) then more people see Repsol emblazoned on the sides of the winning bikes. The average consumer of MotoGP is NOT going to stick around to watch what they consider to be uninteresting racing in procession. In an ideal world, yes, everyone would appreciate MotoGP the way we do on this site, but in the capitalist dominated world we live in that is simply not the case. I could go on in this thread, but I hope everyone sees the point (maybe not since this thread will be buried a long way down :-)

As has been discussed here and elsewhere for many many years Dorna has for a long time been concerned about what will happen when VR stops racing and all of the fans he brought into the sport (by playing with his previously weak opponents and making the racing "look" close) move onto other sports with more interesting "spectacle". That is the simple reality and we would be foolish to believe otherwise. So in this sense, Stoner clearing off at the front is probably not good for bringing more folks into the MotoGP fold.

My only (purely subjective) proof of this is when I go to races with friends who are not MotoGP nuts like those of us on this site. I fill my friends in on countless reams of information, but frankly since I'm a bigmouth it seems a large fraction of the nearby audience eavesdrops on our conversation and I often get good questions on them that clearly show they are there for the spectacle, not the amazing (procession) racing we appreciate on this site.

So again, I think David has hit the nail on the head and provided an excellent discussion for all of us to consider.

As has been discussed here and elsewhere for many many years Dorna has for a long time been concerned about what will happen when VR stops racing and all of the fans he brought into the sport (by playing with his previously weak opponents and making the racing "look" close) move onto other sports with more interesting "spectacle".

I also read in other site that Rossi's fan page has more likes than the official motogp, although I haven't check it [not sure if it's true or not].

Few days ago also read tweet from (Neil Spalding) [the question is more or less like this] why Valentino always dominated the media even after few days post race and not the race winner? - because he is Motogp. COMMERCIALLY speaking!


So, I agree with you this is worrying [i hope we both wrong].

About Stoner I have nothing to say but he is simply brilliant rider on the track. And I [speaking for my self] think it's not his fault that Motogp lately is "considered boring" by many people and we can't force those people to like the race or to like this or that rider.

The average consumer of MotoGP is NOT going to stick around to watch what they consider to be uninteresting racing in procession.

+1 Absolutely agree...

Just my 2 cents on this lovely weather.

Btw excellent article David.

Thank you

Three great races this early in the season and congrats to the two main antagonists. Lorenzo and Stoner. Casey racks up a full house of current circuit wins with George pushing him all the way. George got Qatar off his back.
Those who find the racing boring, nothings forcing you to watch anyway.
As for rivalries and personalities between GP stars,its been that way since 1949.
And fans remain fans.

I'm a big Stoner fanboy. I'd be pleased as punch to see him take another championship but it's hardly a foregone conclusion. Stoner's advantage is not that big. What if Honda doesn't solve the chatter problem? What if the arm pump gets worse? What if Yamaha just happen to hit on something great. It wouldn't take much for Lorenzo to start beating Stoner. Personally I'm not at all disappointed by the season so far. Seems the competition between the top three or so is pretty tight and there's plenty of dicing and intrigue further on down the pack.
Personally, I've always found Casey to be entertaining. The way he rides is a joy to behold and his wry wit and cutting comments always give me a grin. The boy's a natural. He's no Rossi. He's his own man through and through and I'm really happy to be able to see him race.

Thanks for a a very insightful and honest report, David.
The comments are fascinating and the expertise of some of the contributors is obvious. As usual. Me, Im just a fan who rides a bike and does some trackdays but I vear between wanting the old Rossi back and rejoicing in the skills of the rest. IMO these guys are the creme de la creme. As KR Jnr noted recently you also have to be lucky. I despair at Rossi's situation but I was also reminded of how quickly things can turn around by Haga's perfomance in BSB yesterday. I had him written off as lost (and I also acknowledge that one sparky Haga does not make a championship threat) but it was fantastic to see him ride quickly and safely and showing us places to overtake we didn't know about. I hope the bike set-up is what has made it possible for him, not the mood. Marquez made me smile and think of the future in the post-race interview too - that's one racer we have there. Coming through......
This brings me back to MotoGP and what it needs. As this is the premier category: why are engineers spending so much time and effort to produce clone bikes for clone riders when perhaps one thing can bring back competition and allow riders like Elias to shine and compete. Prototype tyres. We do not want a premier league as we had before but isn't a mix of tyres suited to different bikes a better way than the current seemingly rigid options? I remember when seconds seem to be driven out of nowhere and mid-pack was converted to a lead. It is engineering again (and both humans and hardware make 'mistakes' or overlook the 'obvious') - but why constrain one key element when it is so important. Bridgestone do not seem to be evolving these tyres at anything like the pace they should/could in a premier category. Stoner originally showed he could make them work before anyone else, I recall, and Rossi wanted some of that action too. We will never have a level playing field with all the human, financial, and mechanical variables involved but wouldn't a greater choice of tyres help close/liven things up? (I love watching those slow-mo's and the grace/skill of the top riders but I prefer a good fight). It might even save money overall - after all the complaints about the cost of the tyre war it might be a cheap option in comparison to all the re-engineering bikes and engines and electronics that seems to be going on. Just a thought. It's not golf.

I'm all for more tyre options in MotoGP, but I do not want to go back to times where riders suffered because the best tyres were made by the wrong manufacturer. I do not want tracks to be labeled Michelin or Bridgestone tracks, and the rider on the wrong brand for that track is guaranteed a loss. To me it seemed like all the efforts of the racing team would be nullified at some tracks if their tyre manufacturer failed to create a good tyre for that particular track.

If they can find a system that works, where the riders have access to all manufacturers tyres, then fine. Dunlop for this track, Michelin for the next. Pick what works best during practice. No sponsorship deals preventing this.

The manufacturer making the best tyres would be on a majority of the bikes, giving all the manufacturers a very good reason to try to make the best tyre possible.

I guess the hard part would be making a bike that works well with tyres from different manufacturers... another challenge for the development guys :)

I very appreciate this site and read it constantly but I must say I totally disagree with what David suggested in this article. I have my own opinion about the priority of novadays so called PR (public relation) and whole advertisment duties around it. PR was something new in 1999~2000 and Rossi was somehow a person who reformulated completely that side of motorcycle racing world. He created a new definition of rider.
This does not work anymore I think right from 2008 when the economic crisis arose. Apart from that there's some tension between personality image and factory (brand) image that want to be bestselled. Ducati has itself strong image and truly it didn't need anybody to help sell more or something. Watch how Rossi's arrival was "wellcomed" by Ducati fans. An enemy. Those who buys Ducati want to be special just by riding a Ducati bike not to be a Rossi on Ducati. It's a big punch in cheek for any customer couse it takes away Your individuality and trying to tell You, that You're just another Rossi. A lie but with good intensions.
In optimal situation Rossi has no more no less but 1~3% impact on selling more Ducatis even he would win or lose. No matter.
Now back to Stoner, he also has no impact on selling Honda bikes but there is one big IF.
These are WORDS and Stoner plays it good while Rossi not. Casey can heal the "brand image" while Rossi can "make or brake brand image". Like it happens with lots of riders in MotoGP - make or brake.
If I was somehow suggested by what each rider does it would be Casey and Honda couse what is important for me is what I see on the track not what I see off the track. That "Rossi world" was great some years ago but now it's a past. PR is in deep crisis and economical crisis prooves it itself. PR does not work and this whole wrooommm Ducati-Ferrari has no matter for the brands.

What I personally like in Casey is that he somehow has good advantages from two personas: Valentino Rossi and Robert Kubica.
From Valentino he has an ability to avoid crashes (now) and other major bad things which trapped Kubica and from Robert he has similar pure talent to ride, riding best around problems and keep himself out from media. I would call it total privacy instead of being shy or introvert. As e.g. Honda owner I know I buy Honda not 27 or 46.

The future will show Casey's way of living in MotoGP is best for theese days.

Business speaking: IF that was the only option [slower motogp] and bring more spectators I would pick that one.

Myself speaking: I would love both, faster or slower doesn't matter.

Firstly, I am astonished that anyone could read that article and not see it as anything but the highest praise for the rider I believe to be the best of his generation, and possibly of any generation. My comment on Stoner not realizing that it is the people who buy the stuff that his sponsors are trying to sell who is paying his wages is a quibble, nothing more, and several light years from being a personal attack. It is almost as if there might be something to the commonly-held prejudice in Europe that Australians have a chip on their shoulder ...

Secondly, I object to being called an "acolyte" of any rider. Anyone who claims I am so would appear to be blinkered beyond belief. Given that I am accused of being both pro-Stoner/anti-Rossi and pro-Rossi/anti-Stoner, it seems fair to suggest that such claims say more about those making those statements than about me.

And thirdly, I'd like to express my gratitude at the level of debate this topic has generated. It is all well-considered, well-argued and interesting, though of course, any opinions which do not agree with my own are completely wrong... ;-)


The entire article was great but to me that one statement was really standing out as not only out of place but incorrect. When you see such great writing and reasoning surrounding one questionable statement it tends to raise flags. When asked about the results after Jerez, Stoner's boss HRC EVP Shuhei Nakamoto replied 'A 1-2 would have been better....' I think Casey knows exactly who pays his salary and what they want from him: HRC and wins. Period. And he is more than happy to oblige.


I would like to see you expand on your comments of how you expect Stoner to incorporate buyers of sponsors products into his persona? / racing?

We get to see him do the thing he's primarily employed to do - race and win, with a level of skill hitherto unforeseen in the sport. All of us on both sides of the fence stand in awe of his abilities. We constantly read comments by him, so he's obliging us as fans and you as the media here as well. Perhaps he doesn't like the PR side, but as he's matured as a man, and come to terms with his status in the sport, he's opened up here with his insights into various aspects of the game which we all lap up.

Beyond not selling Rossi numbers of hats and tee-shirts, or performing 'hilarious' post race pantomimes I fail to see where Stoner's PR skills are failing you, or us as 'consumers'?

The comment I made was not meant to be about entertaining the fans by his antics or racing. What I meant by that is that it would be good to understand that when he undertakes PR duties (which he mostly does very well and reasonably cheerfully) it would be good for him to realize that such duties are what makes it possible to go racing. Stoner's attitude (and it is one I admire from a personal point of view, if not from a professional one) is that he wants to turn up to the races, get on the bike, go racing, then go home again and prepare for the next race. When factory budgets are in the region of 60-70 million euros a year, that money has to come from somewhere. This, I believe, is what Stoner does not fully understand.

David, I certainly understand what you are saying about the PR side of things, but I would be surprised if Honda didnt know about Casey's reluctance in attending every Honda PR event.
Honda hired him to win the WC and to save themselves the embarrassment of not winning a 800cc championship.
For Casey to do this effectively he needs time (I would assume) to focus on racing rather than being distracted by doing something he doesnt seem to enjoy.

David your comment......
"This, I believe, is what Stoner does not fully understand."

I reckon he has a fair understanding of this, but I would imagine he would have made it clear to Honda (if they didnt already know) his stance on the matter.

He is doing what Honda are paying him to do...WIN.
Let Dani do all the PR work ;o)

Let's not forget that Casey now has a twitter account and a Blog. So either Honda made it very clear to him that his seat on the RC213V is not just about winning or, he is coming around to the importance of what people here call "PR" but I prefer to think of as "appreciation". In my very politically incorrect (at least here) opinion people that see something wrong with signing autographs simply don't understand the sport of racing regardless of how much the now about engineering.

Unless I am badly mistaken, I think you will find that Rossi - who is the 'gold standard' for motoGp riders in the PR output stakes - is also fairly limiting in his actual non-race PR appearances (and this is NOT an anti-Rossi statement, it is an attempt to quantify what amount of PR exposure counts as 'acceptable').

Producing 'Rossi-news' has been staple fodder for moto-racing journalists for years - pretty much a meal-ticket for some. A very, very considerable amount of that was entirely independant of any actual activity on Rossi's part, and in fact he keeps most of his life as private as any other rider. It has been for years seemingly a journalistic imperative to bang out a couple of paragraphs every week about - or containing the words - 'Rossi'. Much of that had, frankly, the journalistic integrity of the average tabloid reporting of any 'celebrity' - a self-perpetuating industry quite beyond what Rossi himself has done. When we start to see articles analysing Stoner's purchase of a new fishing-rod it'll be getting to the same level.

Fair enough comment, David, that Stoner does not manage to charm journalists in the way that Rossi does. Yes, so far he has not produced any 'my life at the top' or whatever books (and I suspect any one trying to get that sort of stuff out of him would have better luck trying to talk him into unanaesthetised root-canal work). However while at Ducati he undertook promotional video work, seemed to do the Vrooom thing with good grace; we've had the 'Red Bull' videos since he joined Honda, we have his Blog site and his Twittering (and Rossi's own ventures into 'net exposure are fairly contemporaneous - Lorenzo was an early adopter here).

An infamous Australian politician once called PR work 'feeding the chooks'. Rossi's persona attracts the chooks; Stoner is rather more inclined to let them graze for themselves. So - to torture an analogy further - how much of the apparent lack of PR exposure of Stoner is chicken, and how much egg? Or, to be less obscure, how much of the lack of PR interest in Stoner is of his making by denying access to himself and how much is a lack of interest on the part of journalists to create something from a more serious, less 'fluffy bunny' apparent character (and again, that is not being disrespectful to Rossi - he understands what journalists seek so he's a master of providing a quotable paragraph).

Is it your experience that Stoner makes it difficult to gain access to him for in-depth interviews? If my memory is not faulty, you have in fact had more one-on-one time ( or certainly small-group time) with Stoner than, I think, any other rider - Rossi included - in the last what - eighteen months, two years? Do you feel Stoner puts up a barrier to communication in those interviews?

Actually - and this is an entirely serious question, not a dig - what do you feel Stoner SHOULD do, PR-wise, that he is not doing? He's rather more Robert Allen Zimmerman than Sir Michael Philip Jagger as a personality; that is just the way things are.

Let us take a hypothetical here: what would you advise if Stoner asked you to 'improve' his PR?

What he wants Casey to do is written right there on the article. He wants him to produce a better show. If he is that much better than Jorge (IF) then he should let Jorge run first for the first half of the race then try to catch him and overtake him on the limit. Entertaining racing is what made Rossi so popular (and MotoGP with him) not after race antics.

Hmmmm.. So MotoGp should be of actors who can race and not of racers who can't act ? Look at the race, one stumble from Dani and he was out of it. They are that evenly match for anyone to even consider pulling a last lap overtake. Dani had the whole race and could not make up that half a second on Jorge, let alone Casey.

Somebody asked something, I was bored at the time and answered. the Article says:

" Perhaps once he realizes he is so much faster than anyone else, he will ease up and start to toy with the others the way that Valentino Rossi toyed with Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau nearly ten years ago "

Then I added a little insight to spite those who say that Rossi is a PR person in leathers. I personally no longer expect MotoGP to provide excitement, I watch the races expecting more or less what I get from QPs (which I also watch). If I want great racing I watch Moto2 or Moto3, luckily there is something for as all in today's GP racing.

On a side note it's beyond belief that after a phrase like that he got torched by Casey fans for mistreating Casey. Ahh... how many time have those very people complained about Rossi fans, the wheel really does go round and round.

Thats the thing. Who ever said Casey wants to be popular? Hell, I'd love him to be a little more excited for a win and be easier to interact with his fans but on a race weekend he feels he needs to be focused, and if that's what he needs to win, then so be it. In the end the history books will show you how many races and championships he won, not how many autographs he signed and how many post race theatrics he performed...

post race theatrics in 2010, what a laugh! When he went and jumped in that pond with his kit on! I can't imangine where he got the idea for such jolly japes!!

Great post. I really don't see Rossi showing up in that many more PR activities than Stoner (f.i. the rediculous pre-racing excursions on MotoGP.com - I never see Rossi feeding lama's, riding camels or baking apple pie). So it is mainly about their difference in personality, introvert vs. extrovert, where extrovert attracts more press, or people in general.
I am not sure Stoner doesn't understand the importance of the audience, he simply can't, and shouldn't as far as I'm concerned, alter his character for this. He is his own guy and some appreciate him for his personality, others don't. I do however have a feeling his popularity and appreciation for how he is, is growing.

Based on Honda's general attitude throughout most of the last 20yrs, I'd say that Stoner is exactly the type of personality that they want.

By Stoner taking a step back Honda gets to take the stage as a brand, which does sell motorbikes and will be around much longer then any of the riders, conversly if you take a look at Rossi's style, sales follow him for a lot of riders, so when he retires, which ever brand he is with loses his impact as they have taken a back seat to his brand.

Basically it's a long term v. short term outlook

I see Stoners main job here is to 1/ Win 2/ Win some more and 3/ Don't tarnish the Honda image (ie. don't screw up)

Thanks for the article David, coming from a country of only 20-odd million people, with a pretty low percentage of even those 20million interested in motor-sport, I'd have thought it a pretty poor marketing strategy to hire any Australian to sell things. Throw in an anti-authoritarian streak, and the high likelihood of a 'chip on the shoulder' attitude after having had to prove yourself again and again at every point in your career and I'd have thought the only reason international teams hire Australians is because they have either a unique skill or a unique attitude (or both) which that team happens to need. Casey wins Honda (and won Ducati) races, and up until this point he has generally approached racing with an attitude of 'win, or fall off (or come very close to falling off) trying'. In F1 Webber wins Red Bull the constructors championship.


Your commentary on all things is spot on - and fans will be blind to that fact as they think with their hearts, and not their brains (as I do when picking the Fantasy League all too often).

Stoner has had an uncanny ability to align the planets when it's time and nail some championships. Rossi used to, and got bored, hence the move to Yamaha - then Ducati. Jorge is still finding his way both as a champ, and more recently as an ex-champ. Dani I fear may always be the bridesmaid and never the bride.

If not on the track, the excitement that motogp provides off the track through the drama and personalities is still well worth the price of admission.

Keep up the stellar work!

The loonies are running the place.

If there are THIS many FOOLS who'll attack ONE DAVID EMMETT, THE ACKNOWLEDGED BEST JOURNO IN OUR SPORT'S LEGIONS, over a sentence pointing out a single acknowledged shortcoming of one rider...

A lesser man would say, "YOU F*****G IDIOTS...", but I'm better than that...

Quite frankly, I don't have an issue w/racing in Moto GP. Comparing it to Moto 2 is like comparing apples to mangos. M2's have 140'ish hp and the GP bikes have 280+! As I've posted before, I'd watch Casey practice/qual'ing just for the 'spectacle' of watching him do something on a m/c that has never been done before. Watching him impose his will, over the m/c, and make it fly, even though its bucking/chattering/sliding is sheet art & beauty!!!! How bout a video of just Casey sliding around various GP tracks? Well, David?

His personality is something I totally understand. The media BBQ'ed him, for no good reason, when he was on the Duc and Rossi/crew threw several barbed comments his way. His honesty and comments aren't 'minced' or said to make friends. He's a breath of fresh air in an aura of PC/BS and never say what your thinking. IF his personality was more like Rossi, he'd be a gigantic star, but he's the opposite (and I'm a Rossi fan). DON"T CHANGE A THING CASEY!!!!

BTW...I've watched the races several times....put it on slo-mo and watch Casey! Stunning!!!!

....David, YOU don't change a thing!!! I read your words/sentences/paragraphs and understood exactly what you meant and were meaning. Bless you for having this site for us for us addicted and need our fix constantly!!!

Your post race weekend round up is always much anticipated and appreciated.
It would be a good thing for many posters across all sites to take stock for 24hours before posting their views and spews. Like Lorenzo in the heat of battle maybe.
Make an an educated assessment of the situation at hand before making a suicidal lunge.
Stoner and Rossi are inextricably interwoven in terms of fan fuelled hype and always will be until one or the other retires.
In the good old bad old days of Rainey/Schwantz it was much the same.
It had nothing to do with race,nationality or anything else. Just personal opinions cast in stone and as ever the persona one identifies most strongly with.
Great post @ geonerd re-Introvert/Extrovert.

I'm a huge fan of Stoner, but for everyone to come to his rescue defending him seems a little bizarre. You guys make him seem like a frail, thinly-skinned 5 year old. He's a man! There's a lot people defending(protecting) him as if they know him; he's not going to come on this board and thank any of you. He's going to race and win, that's it.

If there's anything I would like to blame is surely a blind faith in need of the PR power and it's priority theese days. In 2012 it's useless, outdate and produces unnecessary costs.

To me this article reads as a fair assessment of things with the addition of some larger perspective. Of course some will get it twisted no matter what you write. Without reading into things that weren't intended the article is basically
about 2 things. The establishment of Stoner as the dominant force in MotoGP at present and the question of what is MotoGP at present.

The first is simple and evident. The new guard is now the establishment and Stoner is the alpha of that host. He conducts himself and rides as he is and is successful at it like no other. Honda pays him to ride and represent them which he does magnificently in the former and professionally if not enthusiastically in the latter. Nothing more could be asked of him and I'm sure HRC is well pleased.

The second subject of the article casts an eye on a bigger picture that is beyond the province of any rider. HRC builds bikes and pays Casey to ride and win races and championships. As the larger drama of the interests of the series and that of the manufacturers collide it shows that you can have and display the best of the best but neglect entirely what it is that allows it all to exist in the first place. The riders were correct that the racing wasn't going to be much different with the 1000's as it was with the 800's. A little different from the rider perspective but the game has become so precise that after the first lap or two it's almost like another qualifying session. In fact Estoril had more intrigue and drama during qualifying than racing last weekend. Am I wrong? Feel free to disagree. Dorna is right in that they cannot look to or count on the competing manufacturers to ensure the depth and health of the competition. A Repsol/RCV/Stoner combination is what they all strive for and damn the idea of close racing. Reading through the comments I'm glad that I'm not alone in feeling the racing this year in MotoGP has been for lack of a more generous word, boring. Fascinating in the displays of virtuosity but not exciting. I now look forward to Moto2 and Moto3 for the excitement of racing. I hope Dorna see this too and are keen to try and imbue MotoGP with some of the excitement of the lower classes by whatever means necessary. Without that excitement the fans will dwindle, the sponsors will further dwindle, and MotoGP will only be able to run a minimoto race in the paddock parking lot shot with cell phone cameras and broadcast on youtube despite the Casey Stoners of the world.

As for the flack shot your way over this? It only adds to the perception that
the most ardent of Stoner fans seem to have coalesced into a thin skinned cranky lot defensive and condescending towards any and all issuances that include their favorite in anything but fawning praise and nothing but. Ironic that their contempt is most potent towards the fans of a particular Italian rider but certainly not limited to them. As Stoner admirably proved himself the paragon of MotoGP some that in their minds support and defend him have supplanted the yellow hordes in annoyance just as their favorite has supplanted him as the preeminent rider.

"a thin skinned cranky lot defensive and condescending towards any and all issuances that include their favorite in anything but fawning praise and nothing but."

Wow, that sounds like a good description of what some of us motorsport lovers have found objectionable about Rossi fans for much of the last decade...

No arguments there. Didn't enjoy that very much either. You'd think with such a bad taste in their mouths they wouldn't act in the exact same manner. I'm a Stoner fan and I'm a Rossi fan. It's true! They are not mutually exclusive states. I can appreciate what both have brought to racing and accept their very different public personas. Why not? I'm not on either's payroll or share a surname with one or the other. The specific strain of fandom attending either of them can kind of sour the appreciation if I'm not careful to filter out what has nothing to do with them and what they do. Right now it's high time to really savor the form that Stoner is in. I'd say someone's a bit touched with something ill not to. All the same it's like being served a fine wine that causes some in your company to become explosively gassy. Just kinda ruins the mood a little. That's why when it comes to race day I try and clear all this internet hoohah out of my head and enjoy what the man does and says for himself.

of Rossi belittling Stoner during his years at Ducati ............and never missing the opportunity to stick $hit on him at any given opportunity, like a vindictive child. And the " Greek chorus " was rather obnoxious to boot. It got real old.

Now the clown king is the butt of the jokes, the wind is out of his sails ( or rather his ego.....). Proof positive that what goes round...............

It is irritating when someone is seemingly unable or unwilling to defend their side of a debate - they roll-out that hoary, old chestnut, "nationality”? I currently reside in Australia - however, I was born in England but grew-up & got my inculcation of ANZAC culture & initial road-racing education in NZ. Us Kiwis love to compete & argue with Australians, because so many of them 'Aussies regard & treat us as "little country cousins" - & they serially & historically "steal or otherwise misappropriate any Kiwi success story as their own". So much for quantum leaps of "nationalistic assumption" or blind & knee-jerk "patriotism" as a motivation in defending Casey Stoner, eh? Personally, I'm right with Samuel Johnson - "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel"...I couldn't care less if Stoner was a Namibian Bushman & would feel exactly the same about both his travails & talent.
Your retort about "Australians" having a "chip on their shoulder" illustrates the old truth that when you point the finger at someone, 3 fingers are pointing back at yourself!
I regret you find the description "acolyte" offensive but it seemed to fit rather well in this particular context - nothing personal - just an observation & not entirely intended to be solely or wholly unique to yourself or MM. The sin of partisanship (intended or otherwise) was or has been so widespread when it came to Casey Stoner. Witness the deplorable & inexcusable media attacks & comments on him in 2009 when he was so ill he had to take time & several Rounds off with a then-misdiagnosed malady & for the protection & safety of both himself & fellow competitors.
When Editors & commentators weren't queuing-up to give him a sly or vicious kick whilst he was down - they used "guest commentators" like Kevin Schwantz et al to do the kicking for them. I didn't see one medical degree waving about amongst this lynch mob - did you? That vomiting into one's helmet @ up to 200 mph in close company is a bit "chancy" didn't seem to figure in this entire anti-Stoner Greek chorus. Everyone recalls this deplorable episode but hardly anyone remembers his triumphal return to the track when recovered - an immediate 2nd & two Wins. Thus, perceptions & public opinion are malformed & shaped - via media-led character assassination. Some media people are now having either fits of pique or regret that they were "played" so blatantly by one, at the expense of another.
When it comes to "money" - be it personal earnings, GP funding or whatever - let's be a bit fairer in our comprehension of what Casey Stoner may or may not feel or appreciate on this point. Whether Joe Blogs out there in fan-land knows it or not - fact is - Stoner was Ducati's 3rd choice of rider when they signed him in 2006 & he was paid accordingly. That he immediately delivered a World Title & Constructors Championship for them in 2007 didn't mean he earned then or presently anywhere near what several of his fellow-competitors did. Even now, both Lorenzo's & Rossi's (the latter being exceptional for all the obvious reasons) earnings dwarf Stoners - even with 2 x World Titles. This rankles, unsurprisingly & is the major motivation for his Dad, Colin negotiating for him to only sign a 1 X year contract for HRC for 2013. As usual, the bike media hack pack misconstrued in their eagerness to foment some sort of "crisis" & took this as a "sign" that Stoner had retirement plans. They appear to have the intellectual or moral & ethical standards of garden slugs! Stoner is as candid & lacking in artifice as the day is long. Want to know something - FFS - just ask him - it isn't rocket science. I hope this clears-up & clarifies any misconceptions anyone may have as to MY motivation for posting. Any person is the sum total & "product" of their experiences & social & physical environment. When one considers all the negativity, negligent misunderstanding & targeting of Casey Stoner as MotoGP's "whipping boy" - is it any wonder he is "spiky" when it comes to a certain element out there in the fan base and/or much of the media? That he has overcome all this & still emerged as the recognised "fastest & most complete rider in the World" is a great credit. Many lesser young men would have been crushed & abandoned the sport. More power to him. Cheers

But, all this defense of Stoner and his accomplishments proves the very point that these defenses are being blown out of proportion and everyone is being too sensitive.

ALL these guys have been put through incredible amounts of pressure and media attention. Stoner is no exception and knew what he was signing up for. If he just wanted to ride motorcycles, I'm sure there are plenty of domestic Australian series he could have lived his life away in perfect privacy and bliss. But, no, he wanted to be the best, ride the best machines in the world. Good on him. And with that comes the price and pressure he knew about.

You're asking for us to feel sorry for Stoner? Why? For having a supportive family, being extra terrestrially gifted, having a beautiful wife, being a millionaire? But got beat up in the media by people he didn't know? Where do I sign up?

I'm sure right now there are guys riding around with their buddies on back trails with talent approaching a Stoner or Lorenzo, which have absolutely no interest in what Stoner is after. They are content living a life without the glory. So don't feel too bad for any of these GP guys... they don't have it THAT bad. And I'm sure Stoner is feeling just fine right now, he is living his dream.

Backmarker61's words might be the best thing ever posted on this sight! Truthful and unbiased.

Like I said earlier, everyone's running to Stoner's defense as if he skinned his knee on the play ground. These rider's are men and they don't need everyone's sympathies; Casey isn't gonna personally thank any of you, so you guys need to stand back up, wipe your chins and man up. Stoner is gonna continue to race and kick ass, but not because you guys build him up, claim to know him and what he's thinking. He's going to embarrass Prince Jorge/Yamaha again because they will have no answer till maybe next season. The 2012 MotoGP Champion Stoner is the best at the moment....shut up and enjoy it!

I like a good dollop of hyperbole as much as the next guy but you're laying it on a bit thick in terms of bias at Motomatters. Yes, Stoner has had a bad run from sections of the MotoGP press - no, the MotoGP press are not a monolithic block of anti-Stoner sentiment that seethes with resentment at his ongoing success. Motomatters is not part of any anti-Stoner bloc. Motomatters for years was the refuge for those fans who wanted to know more than "How much did Valentino win by?" and enjoyed the sport not the star (and maybe read a bit about that "astonishing Australian rookie" as DE described him in a 2006 report)

I doubt Stoner would give the time of day to some of the UK contingent in the press conferences - for whatever reason they seem to have had it in for him for years going back to the 125's (and some of it has been nasty). Don't think he's too popular with the Spanish press when he's beating Lorenzo and Pedrosa. The Italians seem to waver, it was nice when he could put an Italian bike on the top step but that meant he was beating their meal ticket. The rest just want something to write about. DE's pieces on Stoner are great examples of letting the subject tell his own story, and I've always got the feeling DE liked interviewing Stoner as he was so willing to give an open, honest answer to serious questions.

Do I think Stoner has had a rough deal from some fans and media? Absolutely. I think he was dealt a crappy hand by Ducati as well, and a certain legendary rider has used the media very effectively to snipe at Stoner. Just take the blinkers off and realize that not all all the world hates the fastest rider of his generation. The whole 'retirement' fiasco is a classic example: one Spanish mag throws the idea out there, the general opinion was 'WTF - where did that come from?" but this is the reigning MotoGP champ we're talking about so questions need to be asked, Stoner says they're talking out their arse at the first press conference and the matter is dropped. There wasn't exactly a cabal out to 'foment some sort of "crisis"'.

(And as an expat Aussie - yeah, when it comes to sport we do have a chip on our shoulder. From Alan Jones to Casey Stoner no Australian champion has ever had an easy road to the top in a Euro sport, they fought for everything they got. The Aussie fans and media have no problem reminding the world that we took them on in their house, by their rules and won anyway. We love an underdog, don't we?)

It is clear Casey can handle a bike getting out of shape on worn tires ,
But Lorenzo on the other hand seem to hate the loose feeling on the hot worn tires. At the first sign of a wheel out of line in the last two races he (Lorenzo) has backed the pace off handing Casey the win.
If i recall rite Yamaha & Jorge have set the bike up to turn slower to increase stability?
Can anyone chip in with some thoughts on the matter?. David?

Hmm. I sometimes feel as if I'm alone in that I both love the scrapping in Moto2/3 with very similar motorcycles, and appreciate the art of riding a 1000cc beast for 27 laps. I watch Moto2/3 for the fighting and battles, and MotoGP to see the best riders in the world on the best bikes in the world. Sure, it's always better if two or even three guys are overtaking each other for the win (see Catalunya 2007, still one of the best races I've ever seen). Seeing Lorenzo close on Stoner at the midway point also provided some tension, watching the gap diminish ever so slowly can be exciting in its own right.

But if none of that happens, I still enjoy myself just watching those riders make thos perfect lines lap after lap. I really do not consider that time I spent watching wasted time at all. Sometimes I wonder if those people shouting 'watching paint dry is more exciting!' are actually fans of racing. If it's that boring, just don't watch and wait for the next race?

I am finding it harder each race to watch Moto2, and I have no desire to see that kind of behavior in MotoGP.

Bashing fairings and potentially suicidal-homicidal overtaking maneuvers apparently are a hell of a lot of fun to watch for people who have never gone elbow-to-elbow through a 120 mph bend with someone.

It's not a video game, and Stoner himself says that motorcycle racing is not a contact sport. I'll speak only for myself, but I think it's a rather sad reflection on the fans of this sport who can't appreciate a race as close and tense as this MotoGP contest was.

At this moment one of our friend is in the hospital (coma & broken bones) because he was taken out by another racer who closed the door on him, leaving him no where to go but into the guardrail during the last AMA Supersports race.

As the first voice of dissention on this piece by DE, I'm gobsmacked at the amount of replies when I visit now, a day later, and the huge amount of votes going on both for and against the replies. Holy crap! But what a lot of good debate. No other site is near as interesting to read as MM, fullstop.

By the way...and getting back to the spectacle of the racing, rather than the tone of (some of) the article....watching Casey picking the bike up and pretty much free-falling into the paint on some of those corners at Estoril, then blasting out leaving black lines...faaaarrrrk ! It took my breath away. Casey has nuts the size of basketballs.

It was fascinating to watch Lorenzo following him, and noting the difference in styles. Watching George trying to up it late race, taking a few risks, but not matching Stoner who seemingly can throw a 1000 around like it's a 125. Arm pump! No wonder... give the lad more spinach, I hope he can last a full season of riding a 1000 like that, cause that's more smiles to the mile, from where I am sitting :)

To reinforce what Pooch has said, it is rare to find anything not worth reading on this site, and for that I think we owe a vote of thanks to Dave Emmett for allowing long posts that give an opportunity to properly develop an argument, when the word length is limited it seems to attract posters with similarly limited vocabulary and intelligence.

Long may it continue.

At present, Casey Stoner has a very slight edge over Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. How big an edge? Their race times for 27 laps of the Estoril circuit measure it most adequately. Those writing off Dani and Jorge do so at their peril. I bet Stoner isn't. Those who think this racing is 'boring' should perhaps consider moving to Somalia or Afghanistan and living on the streets for their thrills, if they want more than MotoGP is delivering. Great article Mr Emmett and excellent posts from Oscar and Cletus Purcell too. But I the only one who finds it curious that Mr Emmett should - even momentarily - pose the question that somehow this response from Stoner could be construed as arrogance:

"It gives me a lot more confidence. That's the thing, you know, with arm pump, with the chatter problem, I've been feeling like crap all week, and my body's not as good as I normally am, and we still managed to hang on, we still managed to be clearly faster than the others at the end of the race."

This last part of the statement is a matter of fact (again as measured by the stop watch). How could anyone even suggest arrogance?

Or is this just another example of the cultural divide between feudal England (where a man learns to know his place) and the New Worlds of the USA, Australia, Canada or South Africa?

The mention of arrogance kind of irked me too. I think this is a cultural thing as in Australia being arrogant or having an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities is considered pretty pathetic. After my initial reaction I decided to read the paragraph again from a less culturally tinged perspective.

On second reading I thought it was put forth more as a question to people who say he is arrogant. The question was surrounded by positive affirmations of Stoner’s real talents (not his exaggerated abilities) so for me, at least, it confirmed that David probably does not think CS is arrogant.

The remainder of the article was interesting and a true assessment of Stoner’s less than love affair with the media.

But when it comes to providing solutions for MotoGP not being profitable, popular or interesting enough the only entity I look to is DORNA. My assessment of their performance when it comes to marketing MotoGP can only be described with an old Aussie adage “they [DORNA] couldn’t get a root in a brothel”.

Back in the day when rossi used to do a lot of passing during a race, they had these things called "qualifying tires". They were super soft, and good for one lap. So, the start did not necessarlly reflect the proper race order on the regular racing tires over racing distance. Maybe its convenient to forget these things.
I might remind the rest of you that one other rider had a Jump in front and build an insurmountable lead on superior equipment style, and that was the former multiple champion Mick Doohan. It was also one of the boringest periods of grand prix racing i remember, and at the same time world superbike racing becme much more popular.
The anoraks may like to watch someone turn fast laps, but without passing there is no suspense. Some of us like to see a race where the die is not cast within the first 5 laps. Passing is the excitement of racing.

The fact that David has been attacked for pointing out the obvious--that riders aren't just there to ride, but to provide entertainment-- just shows how tiresome the stoner fan group has become. He's clearly fast, and an amazing rider. All the rest of the claims about him are simply fandom (he says what he thinks, he's an introvert, whatever) . Unless you personally know the guy, you know nothing about him other than he can ride fast. And that he met his wife when she was thirteen. Ick.

I'm getting a bit tired of hector being towed around the course when he is one of he lightest riders in the field, and Cal Crutchlow is a real breath of fresh air. No whining there, just hard racing on a competative bike. Now, if Ducati would fix that mess so one of their machines can finish higher than 5th, it would be more entertaining.

+1 Disco biscuit. That 'superior equipment' BS is as crusty, and absurd an opinion as they come. What is tiresome, is some mongas still think the bike is the main reason Stoner is such a force in racing now.

indesq did not say one word about Stoner and superior equipment.

EVERYONE acknowledges Stoner is the fastest at the moment no matter what he is riding. Let's not invent ways to disagree with each other.

Its the straw man arguement style: First make up something that wasn't said, then blast the person for saying it and ignore everything else.

David is getting quite a taste of it this year(he's disrespectful to stoner-false, he's a Rossi fanboy--false again, rinse repeat. )

Oh dear... jumping the gun again ? Here, I'll paste it again for you:

"I might remind the rest of you that one other rider had a Jump in front and build an insurmountable lead on superior equipment style"

That's pretty blatantly clear to me. Not you it seems.

"And that he met his wife when she was thirteen. Ick."

For the record, she was 14 and he was 17, and they didn't start dating until two years later. Hardly tabloid fodder.

Jeez Dave... way to make yourself popular with the Aussies!
As for the 'chip', maybe all the riders should get one eh?
Now let's not kid ourselves with the old "would be good for him to realize that such duties are what makes it possible to go racing..." guff, because despite your desire to provide a 'balanced' opinion, he has already achieved the success so few do yet so many attempt to dismiss without these 'qualities' that are mythically inseperable from real achievement.
Stoner has lived all his adult life and more, as a reluctant 'visitor' to the euro circus that dominates the series and along with his 'Australian' personality has probably given people a much more realistic perception of what makes him tick, compared to the 'in character' mode that we see from other riders over the weekend who have the luxury of disappearing into the cracks of their more familiar surroundings.

A scenario you might apply to realign opinion is...
If the cast of motoGP raced for bragging rights over the season and knew nothing of the riches that now dominate the sport (most sport... unfortunately!), which of the riders would remain the hardest, the hungriest and yes, even the prickliest of the current riders?
I think you know the answer and it's about time some others admitted that these are the grass roots qualities that make motorcycle racing the spectacle it is.
What made it possible to go racing for Stoner? Simple really, skill and determination, despite being 'Australian'.

To me, it is not really surprising that there has been a significant reaction to one or two comments in your article that is otherwise overwhelmingly positive in its assessment of Casey Stoner.

You point out that CS27 could benefit MotoGP and his employer more by creating a false spectacle with 'stalking' and doing more to make the fans love him (that is, misunderstanding what HRC hired him for).

I have a few difficulties being able to see this as constructive criticism.

Stoner fans already like the way CS27 races and interacts with the public. So your suggestions for how he can make MotoGP more interesting and how he can be more considerate of fans can be seen as unnecessary by them. I would go so far to suggest that if he did start to act falsely and behave more like VR46 than his own personality, he could lose popularity with his current fan base.

The question is then, what fans would CS27 be making himself more appealing too if he acted on your insights into his shortcomings? It would appear to be the Rossi fan base you have in mind since you refer to VR46 when discussing 'stalking' and VR46 is acknowledged as the having the best PR management in the paddock. Are your suggestions practical or even achievable? Could CS27 make himself more appealing to the VR46 fan base by acting more like VR46? It is not surprising to see Rossi fans agree with your proposition that not acting like VR46 is a failing by Stoner, but I think it is unlikely that he would actually achieve greater popularity with VR46 fans by doing so. This is because most VR46 fans appear to already have a deep seated dislike for Stoner for dethroning their favoured rider (if the rants on online forums over the past 5 years are any sort of gauge). Also, if the reaction to JL99's Rossi-like post-race antics were anything to go by, CS27 is more likely to be the object of scorn and derision if he attempted to behave more like VR46.

Therefore, I would suggest that there has been such a strong reaction against parts your article because, rather than being achievable constructive criticisms, certain comments could be interpreted as a lament that CS27 would be more popular and doing what his employer actually requires of him if he just acted more like Rossi. Are you really surprised that CS27's current fan base do not see this as a fault in Stoner's personality in the way that you do?

Perhaps you could ask CS27 if he realises that he does not understand HRC has not really employed him to win races at the next pre-race press conference. I certainly look forward to his response to your insights into his lack of comprehension about what his job actually entails.

Perhaps the more important question should not be 'how do the riders see their role' in promoting motoGp, than 'how do the employers see the riders' role. I suggest that this is a rich field of enquiry for David.

Let's back off being Stoner-centric for a moment and look at the improvement of the sport as a spectacle, with the attendant benefits of more public appeal in terms of greater exposure, revenue etc.

Firstly, there is the promoter of the sport - Dorna. Ultimately it is in the hands of Dorna to increase market share of the potential revenue from the sport: T.V rights, track attendance etc. If the sport falls in popularity and T.V. coverage - especially free-to-air coverage - becomes commercially unattractive, the ability of the general public to access viewing of the sport will plummet. .Net streaming cannot yet replace the access to FTA T.V coverage simply because broadband access is not by any measure universally ubiquitous (I am a typical example and I live only about 80 kms from Australia's largest city, have a damn fibre-optic cable in my front paddock, but can still get only less than 1.28Mb - ie.. about 108kbps in real-life - download speed!)

So: how about an interview with Ezpeleta, asking him what he would like to see from the riders?

Next, there are the team employers: HRC, Yamaha Racing, Ducati, Herve Poncheral and Fausto Gresini, for a start. What do they see as the responsibility of the riders? They make the hiring decisions and it is to them that the riders answer. He who pays the piper, calls the tune.

Then there are major sponsors: Repsol, Red Bull, Monster, even - god help us - Marlboro. What do THEY ask of the riders? What is their preferred 'profile'?

In assessing whether a rider - any rider - is meeting his 'target' in terms of expectations of promotion of the sport, the target as expressed to the rider should be identified. In that respect, Rossi is unique - a very considerable part of 'Brand Rossi' is, and remains closely held, by Rossi: merchandise etc. Brand Rossi is a corporation unto itself and surely operates to a different set of criteria from any other rider in the history of the sport. It is a highly symbiotic relationship - perhaps it IS the best model, but is it the model 'expected' of riders generally?

David: your business model is surely built on the continuing and growing popularity of the sport. That appears (to some of us out here, I feel confidant) to be a complex jigsaw and actually defining the 'role and responsibility' of the riders is pretty much defining the shape of that particular piece of the puzzle. I think there is a field of enquiry that would be of interest to mtm readers, even if not to the angry horde on some other sites..

I have a very clear recollection of one of the press conferences held on the eve of the Australian GP a few years ago. Casey was asked a particularly inane question from a Women's magazine to which he responded with the sort of answer that made his feelings about the question quite clear. Fair enough you might think, but not exactly the response you need when you're trying build a presence and create some interest in the sport. The question was harmless, but probably been asked a dozen times before and about something he don't care about. But the response was telling.

There is a particular type of sports person to whom the whole thing just seems to have become an effort (there are a few, most of the F1 paddock seem to be above the whole thing). The endless PR requests, ridiculous stunts and draw on your time. The lack of privacy, the need to 'perform' must be very tiring and draining. But if you want the big $$$, then occasionally you have to sell a little of yourself to justify them. The big money sponsors on the HRC bike certainly want to be able to parade their 'star' when they need to. If don't want to partake in that, then refuse the big money, take a smaller salary and dispense with the need to stand up and act the clown.

I'm also intrigued by the vitriol that's directed at anyone who thinks that the racing can be a bit sterile. I am the first to be absolutely amazed at the bike control and unbelievable skill exhibited by our favourite riders (Casey amongst the finest exponents out there), but that doesn't make for great viewing. And the viewing public ultimately are the funding source for all this. Those that maintain that watching 26 laps of pure riding skill is entertainment enough, but then perhaps they're the same people who enjoyed F1 when overtaking was something performed perhaps once or twice ace and who think that DRS and other overtaking aids have ruined the purity of the sport. Whilst these views have merit, it doesn't bode well for the long term, when motorcycling is already a niche activity with difficulty attracting crowds and TV audiences as it is.

So let's consider the assertions:
Racing becomes boring when there is no overtaking.
This occurs when periodically one rider or manufacturer is clearly better than his peers ( eg. Doohan, Schumacher )
We are now experiencing this again with the emergence of Stoner.
The one exception to this rule seems to be Rossi -through by design or sheer personality, his domination was very popular.

Do you legislate or vary the rules to prevent this like F1?
So far, this process in MotoGP has been compromised by the need to cut costs. For example: Engine limits and the single tire manufacturer may have cut costs but is pushing the bikes closer in design, forcing on track behavior to be the same.
Take the performance difference between Ducati and Yamaha in 2007 as a good example. Ducati strong on straights, Yamaha good on turns means there is potential for overtakes on every lap.
Now the bikes are being pushed into the same design corner and the Ducati is a twin spar and has to use the same tires as the Yamaha.
This has pushed all the bikes towards the same performance characteristics and ultimately less overtaking.

There are 2 ways to see overtaking. One is to make all the bikes the same like Moto2 - not appropriate for the premier class. The other is to make the bikes very different - something that has been lost.
We now have the worst of both worlds.

Alternatively, we just accept rider domination and wait until they retire!

This reminds me of Gladiator. :-)
Not so entertaining for the crowd, but he sure does get the job done.

I don't recall an article bringing this much debate. I agree that one racer in front is rather boring, but usually there's a lot of overtaking further down the order. Unfortunately TV rarely shows it. I also don't remember CRT's getting much air time - unless they are right on the tail of a prototype.

I think it's long over due to stop measuring riders (and particularly Stoner) by the standards of Valentino Rossi - particularly all the media, PR fluff nonsense. Stoner would be contractually obliged to do a certain amount of PR for Honda and I have little doubt he would do so with good grace - as would they all.

Rossi has had his day. Stoner IS the measure to which all others must aspire.

Whether Rossi did or did not toy with his opposition back in the day is a moot point. The reality is the quality of Stoner's opposition or the standard of the game is much higher now making any thoughts of such games risky hubris. I have no problems with those at the top of the tree having an arrogant strut (not that I believe Stoner does) - but that's a very fine line to walk, and the fall down the other side can be long and steep.

The other point to which is, I know in my own racing that if I wasn't pushing to my 100% maximum then the thrill wasn't the same. Stoner is giving his all out there (to win and for his own satisfaction) yet still has two extremely talented competitors hounding him all the way. I find it a little difficult to understand how a game of 'cat and mouse' would or could play out.

Here's a little theorectical scenario for you. Just what do you think would Nakamoto San response would be if Stoner came back saying 'I though I had it in the bag so toyed with them a little, but Jorge surprised me'?

I agree 100%. Stoner, without a doubt, has (long ago) earned his position to be far far away from Rossi's shadow. Leave Stoner alone to ride and handle his PR stuff the way he wants.

And now you guys get to deal with fans that have been watching GP for 6 months say that Stoner is the best rider to ever live or will ever be (which is also a useless and pointless argument) and lump ALL Stoner fans into some mass lemming mob. Good luck! :)

Exellent article David,

As an Aussie I would say you've got it pretty much nailed except for the "Stoner not knowing who pays him" thing. I don't think it's completely wrong, I'm just not sure you have all the facts.

When Stoner was interviewed by AMCN about him signing with Honda, one of the "positives" about the deal was that Honda had agreed to give him far less Media work to do...Stoner said "sometimes at Ducati, there was more work done on P.R. than on the bikes"

This would indicate that Honda was well aware Stoner would not be a "natural" salesman for their products.....having said that, he's been in at least 3 Honda motorcycle ads in the last 2 years here in Oz ..(interestingly he doesn't speak in any of them!. there is always a voice over and he just puts his helmet on and rides the bikes around a track!!)
He's also been in ads for motorcycle clothing, designer jeans and sunglasses.

I'm not sure if Brittan or Europe are getting these ad's but he is putting some effort in for his sponsors (although I am the first to admit he is pretty crap at it)

The bottom line is I believe Stoner does Know who pays him, It's just being a quiet country kid, he finds spruking their products about as comfortable as having teeth pulled

Thanks very much again for a very informative article! Fascinating stuff about Hayden's GPS!

Crikey, doesn't it set the hares running if your are even perceived to be even infinitesimally critical in any way of that admittedly very talented young rider Stoner, please do your best to avoid that in future old chap 'cos it means I have to wait ages for the page to load (I have an old computer) and then have to scroll for down the page a very long way past all the comments to post my 'thank you'!!

Keep up the good work, and please accept an extra site donation, in fact buy Mr Stoner a nice cup of tea on me!


Any chance a "home" button could be placed at the bottom of the page. I did learn that hitting the "save settings" button will get you back to the top after a brief pause. Thanks.

Heading for 140 comments on an article that stated pretty much the obvious in calm and reasonable way, crazy...

It's just sport folks, it's not actually important.

Casey-Superman-Stoner is the man to beat and has been for awhile! Why is there so much debate still surrounding CS and VR? I'm a fan of both as well and many other riders on the grid! To get a better show... Jorge will need to be on the same machinery as Casey whether it be a Honda or Yamaha! Throw Rossi and Dani in the mix with the same machinery too to make things even more intersting!?? Okay? Never will happen but it would end the everlasting debate over who is the best rider on the grid. Marc Marquez, who I feel is a mix of Casey and maybe Dani, may be the rider to give Casey a proper challenge! We must wait for it unless the 'rookie rule' is amended or thrown out! Now that would make things interesting for 2013. Estoril had a huge crowd for the final motogp race there... Other venues should drop there prices across the broad: tickets, passes, hotels etc etc. Maybe then Dorna can get the exposure/revenue it wants/needs to grow the sport! Just an idea...

he may be but he's a bit slight of stature to fill the man of steel's boots. Just saying. He does have his one mortal weakness though but it's not Kryptonite, it's milk. Maybe all Yamaha needs to defeat Stoner is Sterilgarda factory sponsorship. (: