The Long-Awaited Ducati Press Release: Stoner Is Officially Back

The long awaited press release from Ducati is finally here, and it contains the news that many fans around the world have been waiting for: Casey Stoner will be back and ready to race at Estoril. The press release also contains the most detailed explanation of Stoner's medical situation yet to be released by either Ducati or the Australian World Champion, but the diagnosis remains unclear. No viral or bacterial problems turned up in any of the tests Stoner was subjected to, and the only problems to appear were low blood pressure and a sodium imbalance. These are probably the causes of Stoner's extreme fatigue, which prevented him from being competitive. Stoner is currently on a sodium-rich diet, to help raise his blood pressure and muscle responsiveness.

We don't usually reprint press releases, but this is one that is worth reading, so it is reproduced below, or you can read it on the Ducati website


The Ducati MotoGP Team returns from a long September break this weekend ready to tackle the Estoril circuit with Casey Stoner back in the saddle alongside his team-mate Nicky Hayden.

The Italian outfit has been working hard on two fronts since the end of July, on one hand liasing with doctors in Australia monitoring the progress being made by Casey and on the other continuing exhaustive development of the Desmosedici, on which Nicky has been able to make great strides, culminating with his podium finish at Indianapolis and further signs of competitiveness at Misano before a blameless first lap crash.

During two months away from racing under the supervision of an expert medical team in his homeland (Dr. Neil Halpin, Sport Physician, Dr Jeremy Coleman, Consultant Physician, Dr Harry Grunstein, Endocrinologist and Professor Jonathan Silberberg, Cardiologist), who have remained in touch with Prof. Fabio Catani (Specialist in Pathology and Locomotive System at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute of Bologna and Ducati's doctor for several years) and Dr Claudio Macchiagodena of the Clinica Mobile, Casey has undergone a series of exams and special tests.

The results of the tests have excluded pathological anomalies of cardiovascular, respiratory or neurological origins. The exams and inspections also failed to show up any kind of virus or infection.

However, the medical report made by Prof. Silderberg and Dr Coleman did reveal low blood pressure levels and a lack of sodium, the two factors that the doctors believe were the main cause of the physical problems that interrupted the season for the Ducati rider.

The doctors all agree that overtraining was the most common factor that showed up during the tests and that the after-effects of injuries and surgeries over the last few years were the cause of the physical weakness and exhaustion that the Australian began to suffer a few months ago.

The doctors also unanimously confirmed that their suggestion to stop Casey from racing at the end of July was absolutely necessary in order to avoid aggravating his physical debilitation.

Following the final medical examination that he underwent last week before leaving Australia, the doctors confirmed that whilst he was still not completely recovered, he is in better physical shape than he was in July and his weight is back up to 60kg, which is close to his ideal weight.

Casey will be back on track this weekend despite not being in peak condition and he will remain under medical supervision throughout, with a new sodium-rich diet aimed at raising his blood pressure and muscular functionality.

CASEY STONER, Ducati MotoGP Team (4th in the championship on 150 points)
"I'm definitely looking forward to the race weekend. Having three races off is the biggest period away from racing in my life. It was very difficult to accept the advice of the doctors to stop racing. In the past I have raced even when injured, like in the last few races of the 2008 season when my wrist was broken, but this time it was really not possible and of course I felt very sorry for the team. Now I'm looking forward to getting back together with the team and everyone and I hope I'll be able to be more competitive than I was in the past, but we will have to wait and see. The doctors have put me on some salt tablets to increase my sodium levels but we will have to see if it helps. We will understand more during the weekend. Of course it's going to be difficult: at first we won't know if it will work because I've been off the bike so long that in any case my muscles will take some time to get race fit again. But, as I said, I'm looking forward to getting back and to starting work on the bike, looking towards the future."

NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati MotoGP Team (14th in the championship on 73 points)
"A few weeks off is always nice but I'm definitely over it now and ready to get back to the track and on the bike. I haven't really been up to anything exciting over the break, just training and hanging out getting prepared for the final stretch of the season. Any time we get a few weeks at home is like gold when you travel like we do. I am very excited for Portugal - we go there feeling pretty positive after finding some decent speed over the last few races. We go there at a different time in the season from last year so it has been almost a year and half since we've been to the track, which makes it a little difficult. The track is nothing real special but I like it. It's pretty narrow, with probably the tightest and slowest chicane on the whole calendar, but has a great fifth gear kink on the back straightaway and the final turn is a very long, cool corner. Also we will have Casey back which is great for the team and the championship and I'm sure he will be as fast as ever. Getting on that front row or podium just got even harder for me!"

LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director
"We are really pleased that Casey is back with us. We never had any doubt that he would be with us once again at Estoril. We know that he is still not in 100% peak fitness and we just hope that over the last four races of the season he can gradually build his strength and work with Nicky to help Filippo develop the bike. With that goal in mind we have a few new things to try this weekend, in particular a new fairing which is designed to make the bike handle better in strong winds and fast direction changes. I really hope Nicky's luck turns around after Misano because his season has got gradually better and I'm sure he'll keep that trend going this weekend."

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Interesting he should mention the condition of his wrist when he was racing in late 2008, given the earlier Marlboro comments.

Regarding his fitness, it's true that there's nothing like the activity itself to get you fit to do that activity. But I hope he's been working out some during all that time off.

I won't be surprised if he's competitive right away. Looking forward to this weekend, in any case.

hope he's okay cause he is a very good rider. just in 2008 stoner was complaining that he had lost fitness due to his wrist problems, now its overtraining that is causing him exhaustion??? overtraining is normally the result of two main things: lack of rest or poor nutrition or combination of both due to body unable to repair itself before being stressed again. i remember reading somewhere that casey eats a lot of junk in binges.

hope the time away from racing worked but we won't know until the racing starts and the stress levels rise how his body will handle it.

still maintain its all mental mainly due to nerves but i hope he proves me wrong and does well.

I’m looking forward for this weekend to watch Casey ride again. I missed him. I’m not sure he and his management handled the situation very well, though. According to today’s press release, it was a suggestion by his Doctors to stop, perhaps that’s true, but they should have brought both Ducati and Marlboro together to make the decision and the announcement to avoid further media speculation.

Livio says he never had any doubt Casey was coming back at Estoril. I don’t buy that. Why the hell then, going out after Lorenzo and Pedrosa on a rather desperate fashion. I do not blame him, though. He has to make sure he has at least one of the top three riders on his team, otherwise the title sponsor might consider keeping its support.

I hope rider, managers, team and sponsors come together and make the proper amends to leave this episode behind, because during this period of time Fiat Yamaha has gone quite a few steps further, and to catch them will be very, very difficult, but with the team still sorting out internal affairs, it will be impossible.

The part that stood out for me was this line: "his weight is back up to 60kg, which is close to his ideal weight."

So quick Google translation.... 60kg = 132 pounds. According to his MotoGP bio, he's about 5'7", and he's now BACK UP to 132 pounds?

Check out Pedrosa's stats!

I'm glad that he's back, but no one will truly know what's going to happen until the chequered flag drops on Sunday afternoon. The only time the exhaustion hit Casey previously was after a few consecutive laps, not practice or Quali, but in the race. I hope he's able to at least fight straight away!

If this whole episode has not been a monumental example of how not to handle PR there cannot be few better. Ducati are now saying they have been liaising with Stonr's doctors the whole time yet for the past couple of months their public utterances have suggested that they haven't heard anything at all about how, or even where, Stoner was.

At the same time they have - or at least Marlboro have - been wildly public in the chase for Lorenzo, making huge noises about the vast sums on offer which have wildly exceeded anything generally believed to be being paid to Stoner - hardly a ringing endorsement of the value they place on Stoner despite all the succcess he has bought them.

Is it any wonder that Stoner appears seriously disenchanted with the whole PR circus? Given all this stuff, I reckon Stoner would be excused for taking the Mick Doohan approach to the media - rip out a few throats, hang the carcasses on the fence and let them publicly rot... starting with the Ducati PR crew.

I too was a bit surprised by the way Ducati went about their pursuit of Lorenzo et al - but look at it this way, it was absolutely the last chance they had to secure another big name before they all signed up with other manufacturers, and there was no way to do so behind the scenes (there's no such concept anymore). So, really it was just another mid-season chequebook frenzy like we always see, just made a bit unpalatable by Stoner's absence due to illness.

And driven by a sudden fear that without Stoner they are nowhere.

..he's rather together and it all makes sense, from his point of view anyway. Now, sure, it gave a pathetic image of someone not knowing what to do, but we knew that from the moment they choose to put wets on Casey's bike at Donnington, didn't we ? did run an excellent interview of him a few weeks ago, and he explains the Lorenzo/Pedrosa affair quite well. Of course, he doesn't say it all but we'll never know the truth of what was *really* behind Casey's off time.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm very glad Casey is back as he's got my vote anytime. People should stop consider racers like "Pop Idol" material and allow them to not be smiling at cameras and snobbing PR duties for tabacco people.

CUDLEE CREEK, Australia —

The koala, Australia's star symbol, is dying of stress.

Koalas live in the rolling hills and flat plains where eucalyptus trees grow, because they need the leaves for both food and water. But as people move in, koalas are finding themselves with fewer trees, researchers say. The stress is bringing out a latent disease that infects 50 to 90 percent of the animals.

"Koalas are in diabolical trouble," says researcher Frank Carrick, who heads the Koala Study Program at the University of Queensland. "Numbers show that even in their stronghold, koala numbers are declining alarmingly."  

(Remainder of copyright protected material removed. Read full AP story here)

Yep, there's never been a huge amount of habitat suitable for koalas anyway, and unfortunately for them the conditions that best suit them are also ideal for humans.

But I don't think it's quite that bad... there are koalas living in the untouched wooded hills less than 1km from my house.

Now, kangaroos, that's a different story - too many kangaroos!