2011 Estoril MotoGP Friday Roundup: Of Insults, Shoulders, And Thunderstorms

"It's like kindergarten." That was how one journalist described the spate of complaints, insults and snide comments that filled the rider debriefs after the first day of free practice at Estoril. Casey Stoner accused Valentino Rossi of following him, then went on to talk again about Rossi's mistake at Jerez; Rossi launched a diatribe against Stoner, accusing him of saying a lot of things which were untrue about his move to Ducati; and then Jorge Lorenzo joined in the fun by attacking Marco Simoncelli, complaining that the Italian was a liability and a danger to others.

Apparently there were some bikes on track too, but in the interests of getting the fluff out of the way first, we'll walk through another day of WWE-style trash talk and petty bickering.

The best place to start is with Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi. The conflict between the two has been simmering just below the surface ever since Stoner turned up at Qatar on the Ducati and destroyed the MotoGP field, leaving Rossi with a sense of helplessness at the speed of the Ducati - with Stoner aboard it, Loris Capirossi being firmly mid-pack back in 2007 - and the feeling that for the first time, he would not be able to overcome an inferior bike using his talent alone. The conflict has occasionally erupted into active combat, such as at Laguna Seca in 2008, when Rossi rode a tactically brilliant race to destroy Stoner's rhythm, putting a couple of firm and sometimes questionable moves on the Australian, forcing Stoner into a mistake which turned the momentum of that season around. But mostly, it has been confined to the odd skirmish, such as Rossi and Stoner swapping insults last year, Rossi accusing Stoner of just not trying hard enough, Stoner pointing out that Rossi was getting firmly beaten by his teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

All that is now over, and open warfare has been declared. The incident at Jerez was the straw that broke the camel's back, when Rossi got into Turn 1 too hot and lost the front end, wiping Stoner out in the process. The fact that Rossi could get back on his bike and continue the race while Stoner was unable to bump-start his Honda (especially when being pushed by just a single marshal, uphill and dangerously close to the racing line) pushed Stoner over the edge, while Rossi had been spoiling for a fight for some time, sick of having Stoner point out that Rossi was riding virtually the same bike that Stoner had won three of the last six races of 2010 on (and crashing out of the other three, Rossi was keen to point out).

The incident that ended the uneasy peace was fairly trivial, which is fitting for epic conflicts such as this. Towards the end of the second session of free practice, Valentino Rossi eased off the throttle, allowing Casey Stoner to get past. Rossi says he backed off to take a breather, before putting his head down for a final attempt at setting a fast time; Stoner says Rossi was waiting for him to get a tow. Stoner says Rossi's so desperate for a fast lap he'll wait for a tow; Rossi says that this happens in every practice session, and if Stoner is sick of people getting tows he should go race on his own.

It went downhill from there: Stoner says the signal he gave to Rossi - tapping the rear of his bike - was intended as a call to heel, Rossi being "like a dog who follows you everywhere." Rossi in turn said that if spent his time tapping the seat hump of his bike every time someone followed him, he would have broken several hundred of them. Stoner reiterated his point that Rossi's crash at Jerez was a "rookie mistake", while Rossi launched into an invective against Stoner's claims about him.

"Stoner says a lot of things which aren't true," Rossi claimed. "He says I signed with Ducati because I was forced to, I had no other choice, because I cannot get the same money because of Lorenzo [Rossi's former teammate at Fiat Yamaha]. He speaks about my shoulder like he was the best shoulder doctor in Melbourne Hospital. But he doesn't know nothing," Rossi said. The reason for this was simple, Rossi explained. "He [Stoner] never got over losing at Laguna Seca."

Valentino Rossi does not often descend to a tirade; his usual method of wounding his rivals is the seemingly casual, throwaway remark. Rossi's one-liners are like the poisoned arrows shot used by the tribes in the Amazon: deadly accurate, virtually unseen, and eventually fatal to the recipient. As Eurosport commentator Julian Ryder put it, "Valentino Rossi does not waste ammunition," which is what made Rossi's litany of complaints so remarkable.

What had got the GOAT's goat was apparently not so much the accusations, as Stoner's use of sarcasm. Rossi had entered the Repsol Honda garage after the Jerez race ready to face a deluge of abuse. "I expected him to call me a f*****g idiot, a b******d," Rossi explained on Friday evening, adding a string of expletives that demonstrated a surprising familiarity with the coarser side of English vocabulary. "But he said he trust my shoulder did not have a problem, he said the thing about the talent," - Stoner had said to Rossi at Jerez "your ambition outweighed your talent" - "I understood a little bit, but I expected a different reaction," Rossi said.

Stoner's reaction - and Rossi's incomprehension - underline the culture clash which lies at the heart of this dispute. Despite his amazing ability to appeal to fans across cultures and across nations, Rossi is at heart deeply Italian, in his thinking, in his personality, in his sense of humor. Rossi is much, much bigger than the sport of motorcycle racing, and his appeal is completely global. Yet at heart, Rossi is still the wild kid from a small village near the Italian party beaches, hanging with his Tavullia buddies and ripping up the neighborhood on their scooters. The kind of harsh Australian sarcastic banter personified by Casey Stoner is alien to Rossi's way of thinking, despite being surrounded by Australians in his pit crew.

Whatever the background for the conflict, a state of open warfare now exists between Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner. The question of who is right and who is wrong is both impossible to ascertain, and completely irrelevant. At the very highest level, sport is fueled by sheer hatred, as Dean Adams so eloquently pointed out a couple of weeks ago. The papers are likely to be filled with cheap invective and scandal-induced headlines for much of the season, but the racing is only improved by the antipathy between two of the fastest men on the planet.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that Jorge Lorenzo is feeling a bit left out by the war of words between Rossi and Stoner. That would appear to be the only rational explanation for Lorenzo choosing today to launch an attack on Marco Simoncelli. Simoncelli was far too aggressive in his riding, and was going to get somebody injured, Lorenzo said.

The obvious explanation is Lorenzo's irritation that Simoncelli should be the fastest man in both sessions on Friday, beating Lorenzo at a track the Spaniard has previously dominated at. Simoncelli certainly seems motivated to make amends for what can only be described as a stupid mistake at Jerez, crashing out while in the lead, with no pressure from behind him. So far, the San Carlo Gresini Honda man seems to be right on course to do so.

Which brings us back to the racing, the bikes, what is supposed to be the core of MotoGP. Besides calling each other out, Rossi and Stoner also talked about the way that practice went, and what they had to say was actually more interesting than the petty name-calling that went on.

The good news for Valentino Rossi - and his many fans around the globe - is that his shoulder is now sufficiently recovered to allow him to ride naturally, to ride the way he wants to. The shoulder is still giving him pain, but it was clear to anyone watching that the old Rossi was back, the Italian looking like his old self again, not a tentative old man tiptoeing around a MotoGP machine.

Rossi also let slip just how afraid he had been in the months following his shoulder injury, as the injury and subsequent surgery had taken such a long time to heal. Riders are used to dealing with broken bones, Rossi explained, and coming back quickly after such a break. The length of time that the damaged ligaments and muscles in his shoulder had taken to heal had had him worried, Rossi admitted, and had even made him doubt he would ever be able to return at his old level.

But practice today had been a revelation to him, the month off seeing him recover most of the strength that had been missing from his shoulder. Though he still had some pain in his shoulder, Rossi said that he finally felt he could ride freely and naturally again, in his own riding style, not one forced on him by a lack of strength.

That makes things interesting for spectators, for with Rossi admitting that he is near enough to full fitness as makes no difference, we can now see where Rossi and the Ducati stand. The results from now on are a measure of Valentino Rossi's ability, and the developmental state of the Ducati Desmosedici GP11. Judging by the times set during practice today, the Ducati is four tenths behind the Hondas. That leaves Filippo Preziosi with a heap of work to do, but Rossi also stated his conviction that Ducati are now heading in the right direction. The changed electronics had helped with the engine character, and a modified weight distribution had improved Rossi's feeling with the front end of the bike, the machine's notorious bugbear. A new chassis to be tested on Monday should be a major step forward, but the few things that Rossi and his crew had found at Estoril - after extensive testing by the Ducati test squad - were already a big improvement.

Things were harder for the Honda, with Casey Stoner telling the media that he and his team had lost a lot of time during practice chasing a setup direction that eventually proved to be the wrong direction altogether. Hampered by a couple of small problems, including a problem with the brakes in the morning, Stoner and his crew had been chasing an improvement that wasn't there, but the Australian was confident that improvement would come on Saturday, having eliminated the setup changes they had looked at today.

Dani Pedrosa is also recovering from shoulder surgery, though his surgery is more recent than Rossi's, but the Spaniard was reasonably confident that the surgery had been a success. The only way he would be able to tell, Pedrosa explained, is when he can spend a full 30 minutes on the bike to test his endurance. Unfortunately, the surgery to remove the plate on his collarbone was still too recent, and so Pedrosa was dealing with stiffness and cramps in the muscles surrounding his collarbone. This had nothing to do with the earlier symptoms he had suffered, but until the region is healed completely - at least another couple of weeks' away - Pedrosa will not be able to test fully. Only during the race on Sunday will Pedrosa know whether the surgery has been a success or not, Pedrosa once again underlining that he was optimistic, but only cautiously so.

The wildcard in all of this is the weather. The MotoGP class, along with the 125s, got in two fully dry sessions, though the cold track temperatures in the morning were far from ideal. The Moto2 class lost most of the afternoon session to the conditions, not because they were bad, but because they were neither good enough to work on dry setup, nor bad enough to learn about riding in the wet.

But once Moto2 finished, the weather turned vicious, with thunderstorms striking just as the Red Bull Rookies took to the track. The Rookies were almost literally subjected to trial by fire, with lightning striking within a couple of meters of one of the youngsters, forcing him to run off the track and lose consciousness, with two more nearby riders also blacking out. The session was canceled immediately, the riders going out again once the heavy rain had lost most of its intensity.

The lightning produced some pretty dramatic effects in the paddock, too. It struck just as Casey Stoner was speaking to the media, plunging the Honda hospitality - along with the rest of the paddock - into darkness. Further debriefs were also rendered inaudible as the thunderstorms rolled over, with lightning causing a couple more power outages during the afternoon.

How the weather will develop over the weekend is a complete unknown. As I sit here typing this, the rain is falling steadily in Sintra, the stunningly beautiful hill town which sits just north of the circuit. Forecasts suggest that the rain will fall again on Saturday, with the afternoon qualifying likely to take place on a soaking track. The weather for race day is more promising, with the exception of around 1pm on Sunday. That's right: rain is likely to fall just as the race starts, potentially producing another lottery.

So far, however, forecasts have been fairly inaccurate, so come race day, anything can happen. And given the amount of ill temper in the paddock, it most probably will.

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has one world championship..that's all.
His head has gone. Like LS08 he will undermine himself, unravelling slowly..shame.

In the media debriefs, Stoner's calmness was surprising, as was Rossi's vehemence. It was more like the situation was bothering Rossi more than Stoner. But we will see, there are a lot more races for this to play out.

Hello wosi - you get bored with crash?

Mate, I've never seen Casey go, or Vale, but Vale does have form. When Max took a jab at him in a stair well, he backed off until a scrum of people grabbed Max to hold him back, and then Vale laid a couple on Max while he was held. Given the thoughts of some other responders here, that Australians can be better at gamesmanship than sportsmanship (which I admit is often true) then I think we're in good company.

Great report, im not a casey hater but you can see now his character how in reality he thinks and reacts , he got the talent but i dont think enough mental strenght, he doesnt know but now is playin on rossis field, if he ask sete gibernou he cant win there, anyway it will be a great season for all of us, lets see what happens.

Imo, Lorenzo's words about Simoncelli may be just a need of attention, but whatever reasons led him to pronounce those words, there's some truth to them. It may just be my uneducated spectator's opinion though. Simoncelli is definitely a very fast rider, as has been shown lately, but that doesn't change the fact that I've seen more dangerous maneuvers from him than could be considered normal from a rider (since before MotoGP). Even in his only WSBK appearance Simoncelli managed to raise the hairs in my neck so, yeah Lorenzo, I would have to agree with you :)

I also think this might be the first time I actually agree with Lorenzo about anything, no matter what personal need prompted his comment in the first place.

I think that comment was very true and fits many riders complaining about tows and interference. On the other end of the spectrum is the rolling roadblock that is Max Biaggi. Yet so few will race the TT!

I'd like to see the World Championship decided over Time Trials, Sprint and Endurance races.

I'm baffled that anyone still thinks Rossi made questionable moves at Laguna 2008.
Just watch the race again and listen to Hopkin's comments .
Those passes were bold yes, questionable I beg to differ...

I think what Stoner took issue with was Rossi brake-checking and throwing off Stoner's drive. He was definitely being a roadblock but that was exactly his intent. And it was deftly executed.

As for the corkscrew: Stoner has said repeatedly that he didn't seen anything wrong with Rossi's move. That is probably because he realizes that he made the pass over the hill leaving Rossi nowhere to go except into the dirt.

However, I hope we can avoid turning this into a Laguna Seca topic.

yes it was a pivotal and fascinating race in the 2008 season, and its one of those things that are going to polarise everyone that watches motogp. but it was three years ago and its been done to death.
im quite surprised that rossi brought it up, i beleive he's drawing a long bow if he thinks thats why stoner doesnt like him.

Rossi was far from tailing him from a tow. I think he has seen barbera behind him so many times that anyone behind him at all is trying to get a tow. I think casey is getting into HIS own head on this one. Cant wait for the race.

I think all this is just fuel for Rossis motivational engine. If Casey keeps on doing this, he pushes VR to manage unexpectedly good results.He gives VR all he need...a target.He has titles enough, all he wants is to show that he is better than his closest rival.He wants to beat him eye to eye.

I would like to see you riding with a broken leg and a srewed up shoulder.Lorenzo would have no title without this and the bike developed by VR-but lets put that aside and keep the level high here without bashing and stuff please.

This seaseon is different.
VR was never under such a fire I believe, with the Ducati and all its national pride stuff.Italians are so proud and Vale is no exeption....and Vale seems to be fully fit in the next couple of weeks.
I´m looking forward to a great season.
May the best one win.

Let's keep the level high and not dig up old cows before asking to put it aside.
I agree with you on one more thing: may the best one win!

Wait, what? Why is your comment directed at me personally? I asked what I thought was a legitimate question. I do not believe I was digging up old arguments and I wasn't even even questioning Rossi's results last season. I simply asked how Casey as a rival is different from Lorenzo. You stated that all Rossi wanted was to prove he is better than his closest rival. From my perspective Lorenzo - on the same bike - was a closer rival than Stoner.

Neither a fan of Rossi or Stoner here making impartiality a matter of course, Stoner has won the war of words. It may appear petty, but these two would not engage in such vitriolic discourse if they thought it to be worthless. The biggest of egos are also the most vulnerable, most fragile when challenged. Rossi seems to have been given a bit of his own medicine and by his response, it tastes quite bitter. Because Rossi and the Ducati have taken some time to come together, this has signaled his most ardent competitors like the shark in the sea that swims to the blood in the water. Stoner can smell it, he can taste it and is on his way to claim his meal. This is the natural order of things. When people get nervous they talk a little more, a little louder and a little faster. I believe Rossi is a bit more than nervous these days, as the long time hunter has now become the prey.

Gotta feel for Jlo he had to say something otherwise he would have been ignored...
Turning into a great season of racing with Simo making the Honda golden children look less than golden. Pity the duke isn't fixed(yet) as with Rossi up there as well it would be brilliant. Again congrats to KA..
Stoner was totally overreacting, last two years he finished behind Dani yet Dani was supposedly for the chop.(Ducati was like a big armchair for him). Big big year for Casey on what is comfortably the best bike, cannot afford to lose.

It's fair to say that if Rossi had not taken Stoner out (sorry to bring it up again) then Stoner would be either leading or very close to leading the championship, but yes I do agree that he is in the box seat this year and there's probably more pressure on him than he might have expected so early in the season. It will be interesting to see how said pressure plays out but he showed a hell of a cool head at Qatar, and by all appearances seems to have finally developed some racecraft. Also looks like he's getting a handle on the off-track manouvering too : )

I would say the situation is not that much different in either camp. It takes Rossi longer than expected to get the Duc up to speed so the pressure is building up there, even though (or especially since?) he is a 9 time world champion. Stoner has been the champion elect since testing started so he has something to prove, too. On top of this these guys could not be more different in the way they talk, react, joke, play mind games.
I think both really, REALLY want to beat the other, but I don't think either of them is impressed by the verbal attacks. They don't even understand eachother.

I think both of them have ego's big enough to cope with a few words.

Personally I think Stoner is carrying things on in desperation to get under Rossi's skin. I think that Rossi's response is more due to being bored of hearing Stoner spurt out the same rubbish over and over, not that he's "rattled".

I don't see how anyone will dent Rossi's ego until they equal his 9 Championships - yes they are in the past, but 2 of them are more recent than Stoner's single one.

But as I said at the start, Stoner and Rossi are both big enough to handle what others say, they're both very good racers and on the tarmac, they won't worry about anyone but themselves.

As long as it makes for good racing then that's what I want to see!

As an Australian I appreciated the fact that mention was made of the cultural differences across the paddock.

When I was younger I didn't even grasp that these differences existed between different people around the globe.

I have had the priviledge of working in a military context with many, many different nationalities in many different and varied contexts. Holidaying in Italy was yet another eye opener.

Us Aussies are unique in a way because the very foundation of how we communicate is based around sarcasm. It doesn't translate very well over the internet, and it definitely doesn't sit well with people from different cultures when they get their first taste of it.

Even the British & Americans (that we are so often compared to) find it difficult to interpret that twinkle eyed, half smirk barb. Even when the confrontation is on a serious note the comments are often expressed in a sarcastic way and their meaning is left for you to decide.

What Stoner said to Rossi last month in the pits is a staple of what Dads say to their Sons over here from day dot. "You got your ambitions mixed up with your capabilities mate" was one of my old mans most used catch phrases.

Most Americans wouldn't know how to swallow a comment like that let alone an Italian - and that's not an attempt to be direspectful in any way at all. We are just very, very different cultures and once you get the 'hang' of how Aussies talk I'm sure most people would appreciate the straight-shooting style.

If nothing else it makes incredible theatre on the world stage. It spices up the racing, and given that Rossi has given so many people stick over the years it's nice to see him getting some of his own back.

"Casey needs to prove it on the track" - well Vale, he has been.

Great season ahead.

You're dead right about Aussies being different. Us Kiwis are pretty familiar with the trans-tasman vernacular and I'm with you on the phrasing of Stoner's 'acceptance' of Rossi's apology - myself and a lot of people I know speak of 'running out of talent' when something goes wrong, it's pretty common down here in the Shakey Isles. Going back to Jerez (sorry) I did notice Casey was beaming in the way only an aussie larrikin could as he let him know his thoughts BUT the big thing for me was the way he was whacking him on THE shoulder as he was telling him. Not sporting in my mind, after all you didn't see VR46 giving him a glass of milk to apologise :-) But then again Aussies are better at gamesmanship than sportsmanship - that's why they're winners. If you're in any doubt check out their cricket, league, rugby union teams over recent years; mentally tough as, but not always 'fair' in their pllaying to the rules, not the spirit of the game.
I guess such a war of words is what happens when you combine pride, egos, pressure and lust for glory. A great and memorable season is ahead of us, let's hope it is played out on the track though and not through press releases and news conferences.

I have three kids, ages 3, 4 and 7 - and I am continually pulling myself up for my sarcasm when reacting to them. I hate it, really - in that context. But otherwise it's totally normal to me.

Rossi probably have a degree of familiarity with it because his Australian crew would not have spared the horses, but he might not have copped the pointed version that Stoner applied at Jerez...the thing with Australians is that even if you do well - even if you win! - they will find something to have a go at you with... a classic Aussie saying is "Yer not trying, son!", and you usually only hear it when someone is truly giving 100% : )

I have to keep a handle on it in online communication too because I've learned that it doesn't translate well... you need pretty thick skin to banter with Australians.

I liked the link to the Dean Adams article, haven't heard that "fight or fight" refererence to Aussies before but it's not half true...

Having also been around the world and having been cursed with an abundance of sarcastic genes, I can assure you that sarcasm knows no borders. Some people understand it. Some people express it better than others. I have seen it work (and not work) around the world. Rossi uses it, too.

It would probably take you some time to adjust to my group of American sarcastic friends. Maybe it's those giant Foster's that keeps the Aussie brain at the bar-bee level of humor: A bit chewing and over-cooked.

I hope that came across as sarcastic, which is even tougher in print. Cheers, mate. ;-)

No-one drinks that rubbish in Australia... Fosters is a great marketing job, but a terrible beer. There are literally dozens of better mainstream beers here... and yep I have plenty of American mates who excel in sarcasm - and they take cynicism to new heights too : )

The world of MotoGP needs battles. Fact.

There must be battles on and offthe track, it feed for great racing.

Rossi vs Sete
Rainey vs #34
Rossi vs Max
Lorenzo vs Hair
Rossi vs Casey ..... etc. all great battle.

Seems that Mr Rossi is involved a few times. I guess having the biggest shoes mean you get into more battles.

Stoner KNOWS (as do we all) that he is the fastest guy in MOTOGP. ALL the experts agree ! (Even Burgess!)
Stoner KNOWS he was fast on the Ducati and Rossi is yet to show this.
Stoner KNOWS the 2011 Championship is his if he rides well (and doesn't get taken out by desperate moves from Italians).
David has said he is happy and calm, why does everyone keep on saying he is another Sete or Max and being beaten by Rossi mind games?
Stoner should say to Rossi what Rossi said to Sete (after grid cleaning gate). "You will never win another race !"
I'm sure Stoner this year and beyond could enforce that bet!

On a side note from the once again thoughtful insight that we all love from you David.
For a while I have been thinking, but not daring to say : the way you throw some (slightly I guess ?) elaborated phrases, or vocabulary and expressions in your texts is almost gold from a stranger's perspective.
I am reading a lot of stuff in English, mainly about motorcycles I must confess :) and it seems to me most journalists are writing in a very straightforward way ; past some point it is then hard for us strangers to make any progress in the understanding of your language - we get stuck to an 'Erasmus' English if you know what I mean.
Maybe we should try and read Shakespeare, but.......... :P

That said, the everyday French language is getting poorer and poorer as well, in the press as in the streets. African people speak and spell better French than we do.

So thanks again for taking the time of writing nicely, it is good for international readers I think.
Sorry for the off-topic and enjoy the show in Portugal !

It's amazing to read your articles, learning new words and phrases all the time.
Living in the US I am pretty fluent in East Coast slang but reading your articles improves my vocabulary much more, thanks for that.

Is a bit of kindergarten fractiousness after an unplanned four week lay off, just as the season was getting underway, such a big deal? I wonder whether we are reading too much into it. The moral seems to me that these boys need to be kept busy - preferably on the track.

It seems to me the younger generation lead by Stoner and Lorenzo no longer feel the need to praise Rossi and his past achievements. They are more than his equal and I think all of three of them know it. Rossi laid his stall out earlier this year with his comments on both Stoner and Lorenzo. This press conference indicates to me, not Stoners head unravelling as you say Wosideg, but more that the gloves are off and Stoner is more than up for the fight with Rossi in both words and deeds. An entertaining sub plot for us all.

Stoner struggling in practice on the RCV is also not a surprise. This is the advanatage that Pedrosa will have over Stoner all season and why I feel a fit Dani will have an edge on Casey all other things being equal.

lose his cool ever! to my experiance.... we'll have to watch and see (and keep reading here - thanks david)... but one wonders if Casey's might be getting into Rossi's head a bit?

for the record - VR fan here. Not a Casey fan but it seems as if he's taken some leasons from the master (vr) we'll have to watch it un-fold and see.

Simo has been on his best behavior but now that he's mastered the bike I agree that he could be a bit too reckless.... anyway it will be fun to watch it unfold

@ Jerez, Stoner was definitely playing to the cameras. I'm sure those who have travelled or have an eclectic array of friends understand cultural differences. However, for Stoner to lay sarcasm in english on a person that is still trying to grasp the language, least of all the nuances of colloquialisms of Australian vernacular whilst in Spain, seems rather low, misguided, and somewhat amusingly ignorant...

To imply Stoner has won the war of words, is much in the same vain as one, Charlie Sheen's sense of the word - "winning" (being recently fired, and dumped by a woman of questionable morals).

I will almost bet, Rossi still doesn't quite get the true meaning of Stoners barb, and after reading recent interviews of Stoner trying to back peddle the comment, neither does he...

Motogp, as an international sport, has it's slight drawbacks in the realm of communication. As most journalist may seem more straightforward, maybe it's due to the fact that many of it's readers have to translate the articles on way or another. Google does a very crude job of it when I attempt to extract info from various Italian and Spanish sites.

But then, that is why I like to come here, as Dave seems to do an excellent job of filling us all in on so many interesting things... Thanks for the article and the insight, keep it up...

To suggest Rossi does not understand exactly what Stoner meant at this junction, is beside the point. It is not necessary to be familiar with another's language to understand the animosity and contempt one would have for another. Rossi has been around long enough. He claims ignorance at first but then fires back shortly thereafter which was more than predictable. This is his standard tactic, MO. Anyway, the young guys are here and not giving an inch. Nothing gonna come easy anymore for the 46. Sic is another to watch! He does not seem to be much for words, just run you over on the track and offers no apology afterwards. Lorenzo, feeling left out, displays his inferiority complex again as usual which is getting a bit annoying. However, he puts it on the pole and will probably be on the box again. Should be a great race.

IMO, you're missing something...
At Jerez, it was Rossi who intended to play to the camera. He dragged half the press corps with him, and began to make his big premeditated show of apologizing. Unfortunately for #46, Stoner saw it coming and beat him to it.

As for Rossi's comprehension of sarcasm, I don't think you are giving him enough credit. He's said quite snarky things in the past, easily the equal of Casey's zinger. Further, I'm sure JB would have helped him with any remaining confusion. For some reason, a lot of people see poor little Valentino as some naive kid, just out to have fun. "Someone should cover the poor child's ears when those mean Aussie's speak!" Needless to say, I don't quite see it that way.... :)

The man is the biggest name in the sport, camera are naturally everywhere. Besides, the incident was an accident, a common occurrence in a wet race. Also who is Stoner, that he deserves a special private visit for apology. The man was big enough to apologise in the first place, and Stoner returns with poor sportsmanship. If I were a level headed Aussie, I think I'd be just a little embarrassed... Or maybe Aussies go for that sort of manners, I don't know...

Politeness !! Don't barge into my turf with your helmet on to explain yourself.
Make a call,make an appointment,knock on the door and express yourself.
Never forget,in terms of the big picture, MotoGP points, Stoner is the big loser.
He has all the right to turn on the sarcasm, which I fully understand.
To go full circle,is that not what Casey said about Valentino's apology ?
He would have read more intent into it being genuine,had Rossi had a quiet word with him away from the TV cameras. No doubt Stoner saw it comming and had a verbal plan in place.
Its an easy fix really. Teams should merely ensure members from other teams do not enter their garage's at will during the race weekend,except by invitation.
Anyway,I am enjoying the unfolding soap opera.

The Jerez incident was very obvious. The very sarcastic grin. The thumbs up to the camera. The very hard pats on the Right shoulder. All were very obvious. Valentino also knew what was meant both in gestures and in speech.
Neither man comes out of this one unscathed. Casey already has a whining reputation and this serves to further it. Rossi's legacy can do nothing but become tarnished by the antics.

David and a few others are right to point out that Rossi is on virtually the same bike as Casey. His shoulder being healed 90 to whatever percent it is, and the lack of results is very telling. This time the talent cannot overcome the shortcomings of the bike. Depuniet,Capirex, and Hayden would agree.

For the past three years '09 going forward, Rossi is not only vulnerable but very beatable by Jorge/Casey and even Dani. In the past the speed and mind games were sufficient to dominate. Now the speed is third best in the world and the mindgames no longer have its desired effect. The games may even have finally caught up with him.

What is the answer to the question that Jorge finally on the same bike is the faster and more consistent rider? Or Rossi on the same bike as Stoner is 7th or 8th best in the world?

Ducati bettter shape up quick or we will see The Doctor hangs up his shingle as there is nowhere to go. Yamaha is full as is Honda. Suzuki is possibly on its way out and Kawak is no where to be found.. Solider on Rossifumi.. I hope some of the old magic is still left

We certainly have some serious challengers to the King these days, but IMO it is a little short-sighted to write Rossi off... I know you left the door open with your perspective but at only two races into 2011 we still don't really know what the Rossi/JB/Ducati combination is capable of, and we're yet to see Rossi turn in one of those truly magical races that he specialises in.

JB has seen a lot (well that is putting it mildly) and has talked openly in the past of an interest in working with Stoner. I'd love to see that... but anyway, I think that given his experience, and his understanding of Rossi, and his general marketability in MotoGP, the very fact that he decided to go to Ducati speaks volumes on his faith in Rossi's abilities at this stage of his career. He probably could have gone to Honda with Stoner and set his retirement fund up for life - but he didn't... he is banking on another title with his rider, and to paraphrase the man himself - as long as you have Jeremy and Valentino on Sunday, you have a chance of winning.

Mommy - he touched me!

Mommy - he spit on me!

What a soap opera. Get on with racing and leave this stuff to the women.

I don't know if I am buying it. After Jerez when Stoner made his pre meditated comment to Rossi his voice was shakey and almost seemed like he wanted to cry. The sarcasm was not clever to me as an American I dish out and recieve way worse when competing at any sport.

And the comparison to Rossi being on the same bike as Stoner and him winning 3 races at the end of the season. It was just that ,at the end of the season. Hayden was performing better then Stoner early on. Stoner won races last year where he usually goes good on the Ducati, the start of the year his results were not good. By Catalunya, Mugello if Rossi's not winning or in the hunt, I wll be the first to say he's dissapointing and not what I expected to see from him this year. As always write him off at your peril.

this is an article which just went out on an italian moto site, the tones are quite harsh and you have a passionate italo-spanish argument .. i am italian

"Marco Simoncelli, Jorge Lorenzo has attacked and countered Romagna word for word, with interest. The controversy between Rossi and Stoner was not anything in comparison. For tones, the words used, the attitudes of the two. And also because Marco and Jorge were facing each other: they had to say, if they are called in the face.

Lorenzo has started, as often happens. For some time, in fact, the Spaniard explained to everyone how dangerous the way of running Simoncelli. These are stories that have been dragging since the 250. On Friday afternoon, said: "I hope that nothing happens in the race, with Simoncelli. He is too aggressive. Last year in Valencia nearly made me fall. "

Simoncelli has read these words in the newspapers. Responded immediately after the tests, but as in the traditional press conference in the afternoon the two were found next to each other is nothing enough to light the fuse.

"I would say that Lorenzo said yesterday a lot of things wrong - said Marco. - In Valencia it was he who hit me, because I was there before, so he has that almost made me fall. The proof is that in my suit there were signs of his tires, from the leg to the shoulder. " Lorenzo became red, his face began to shrink.

"As for my guide wrong - Mark has continued - though here there is a driver who was disqualified in the past, that Lorenzo was his, not me. Having said that, to me ends up here. " The fact refers to 2005, was unfair to Lorenzo De Angelis in Japan, and was punished with disqualification for the next race in Malaysia.

Lorenzo then took the floor and says, menacingly, "the affair is over if he calms down and if nothing happens."

"It's not about the future. You said the wrong things, "he immediately replied Marco. And then Jorge has raised his voice.

"Have you had problems with a lot of people in the past."

"Never mind, yesterday you said you the wrong things."

"You've always been aggressive," he tried to replicate, Lorenzo. Mark did not give him enough time, "Yesterday you said was false."

Lorenzo threatened again, "I worry for the future, should not happen no more." "Well, in that case I will stop," then replied Mark, in a tone of obvious joke. And as the audience began to laugh, Lorenzo lost his temper.

"What are you laughing?! - Said the Spaniard, speaking to reporters. - We are talking about things you do to 300 per hour, moving at times we risk our lives. We are not in the mini. " The crowd calmed down, the drivers were separated. The tension, though slowly declined. It only remains to add that this Marco Simoncelli must really be scared if the world champion uses these psychological tricks to destabilize it. The thing that Jorge does not yet know, however, is that Mark is not afraid of anyone. Not even him. "

in which he describes Stoner as rip the mike from your hand spiky. Sounds very Doohan or Lawson to me. They did a bit of winning too if I remember rightly.

Didn't Lawson famously have a 'Not Welcome' doormat outside his motorhome in explicit reference to Journo's?