Archive - Interview

August 30th, 2011

Interview: Stoner's Crew Chief Cristian Gabbarini On Getting Heat Into The Bridgestones

If anyone was in any doubt about the pivotal role that the spec Bridgestone tires play in MotoGP, this year will have made their significance abundantly clear. The stiff tires offer unbelievable levels of grip, but only once up to temperature, feeling vague and distant while still cold. That presents riders with a paradox: to go fast, the tires have to be warm, but to get heat into the Bridgestones - the front especially - you have to push it hard to make it work.

Championship leader Casey Stoner has proven to be a master at handling this dilemma, seemingly achieving astonishing levels of lean angle and getting his Repsol Honda RC212V turned faster than anyone else on the grid. When asked about the method he uses for getting heat into the tires, Stoner has spoken several times about using the throttle to load the front. 

To an untrained observer - and even to people who do have the training - this doesn't seem to make sense. After all, use of the throttle makes the front wheel want to lift, doing the polar opposite of loading the front Bridgestone. To understand exactly what Stoner means by "using the throttle to load the front," we turned to the man who knows exactly what the Australian is doing when he rides the bike: Stoner's long-time crew chief Cristian Gabbarini. Gabbarini, who worked with Stoner at Ducati, and joined HRC when the Australian moved to Honda, took time at Brno to answer our questions. Here's what he had to tell us:

August 25th

2011 Indianapolis MotoGP Pre-Event Press Conference Transcript - Stoner, Hayden, Spies, Pedrosa And Simoncelli Speak

The incredibly industrious and efficient press office at Indianapolis Motor Speedway provided the following transcript of the pre-event press conference held on Thursday afternoon, featuring Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Dani Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli:

Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Dani Pedrosa, Marco Simoncelli
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011

Q: Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome to the pre-event press conference here for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. It's Round 12 of the MotoGP World Championship; still seven rounds to go. In the press conference today, the World Championship leader, Casey Stoner, riding the Repsol Honda. Casey has won six Grand Prixes this season. He has a 32-point lead in the World Championship. He's been on the podium in the last nine Grands Prix, and he's won the last two.

Sitting alongside him to his right is his teammate, Dani Pedrosa. Dani's fifth in the World Championship. He's had two wins this season. He was the winner of the race last year after qualifying in fifth place.

August 21st

HRC Boss Shuhei Nakamoto Debrief Transcript: On The 1000, Fuel Limits, HRC's Budget, Motegi And Suzuka

The Brno MotoGP test gave journalists the rare opportunity to speak at length with two of the driving figures behind MotoGP. As well as Ducati's Filippo Prezioso (the transcript of which you can read here), we also got the chance to question HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto. Nakamoto fielded questions on a number of subjects, sometimes with a healthy dose of humor. He naturally spoke about Honda's new 1000cc RC213V, and the development direction HRC have pursued, but he also talked about the effect that fuel limits have on bike developments, including the opportunities they offer for developing new technologies.

Nakamoto-san spoke about the effect that the earthquake and tsunami has had on Honda's production and consequent budgets, and the knock-on effect that this will have on the level of support being offered. He revealed that HRC expected to supply 6 bikes for next year, but only 2 factory machines, and he also spoke about the possibility of a switch from Motegi to Suzuka. Though he personally liked Suzuka, the track has not been approved by the FIM and would be unlikely to receive FIM approval for MotoGP.

August 16th

Filippo Preziosi Debrief Transcript: "Today's Test Was About Ducati's Future"

Shortly after lunchtime at the MotoGP test at Brno, journalists were given an opportunity to talk to Filippo Preziosi, Director General of Ducati Corse and the engineering genius behind Ducati's MotoGP project. Naturally, the question of a traditional twin spar chassis came up, as well as what Ducati was testing on Monday, both questions that Preziosi deflected rather gracefully. But he also talked about the role of the Bridgestone tires in development, and why he would dearly love to be able to race a twin in MotoGP. 

A transcript of the press conference follows, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Jensen Beeler of Asphalt & Rubber, who transcribed it for us:

Q:What were you testing?

The test of today was based on understanding what are the main directions for the future, for the mid-term and long-term future. So we tested very different setups in order to check the preferred weight distribution, center of gravity, stuff like that for Vale. For the mid-term. So, in order to give the design people the targets for the new bikes.

Q:When you say mid-term, how far out is that?

One year.

Q:Are you testing these changes with the existing components, or are there any new parts on the bike?

August 4th

HRC Press Release: HRC Boss Shuhei Nakamoto On The Season So Far

Not to be outdone by the Repsol colleagues, the good people at HRC have also been issuing press release interviews. Today, they issued an interview with HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto, who provides an interesting insight into the performance of the Repsol Honda team from the perspective of HRC management. In the interview, Nakamoto talks about how Honda changed Casey Stoner's bike to fix the problems he had been complaining of all weekend at Laguna Seca, allowing him to win the race; about how well Dani Pedrosa has performed despite his injury; and about what Honda expect from the second half of the season. What is also interesting in the interview is how little time Nakamoto spends talking about Andrea Dovizioso, and when he does, he has some firm criticism of the Italian.

Here is what Nakamoto had to say to the HRC press office:

Round 10 - Interview with Shuhei Nakamoto

Round 10. 7 wins out of 10. The second half will be the decider.

Repsol Press Release: Another Interview With Andrea Dovizioso

After consecutive days of press release interviews with Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, it should come as no surprise that today the Repsol Media Service issued a third interview with their third rider, Andrea Dovizioso. In the interview, Dovizioso speaks about his season so far, and what he is doing in the break ahead of Brno. Below is the press release:

"I have never been so strong in all races as this year"

The Repsol rider, firmly in third position of the overall standings, is optimist for the second half of the season

In his third season at the Repsol Honda Team, Andrea Dovizioso reaches the summer break firmly placed in third position of the World Championship, after getting four podiums and gathering points in all races. Always among the fastest of the category, the Italian rider is showing a great consistency that keeps him in the first places of the premiere category of the Motorcycling World Championship.

What are your plans for these free days?

"Family holidays, five days in Sardinia, resting at the beach with my family and my friends to relax and gather energy for Brno".

Are you satisfied with your third overall position?

August 3rd

Repsol Press Release: Another Interview With Casey Stoner

After yesterday's interview with Dani Pedrosa, today, the Repsol Media Service issued a press release containing an interview with MotoGP championship leader Casey Stoner. In it, the Australian talks about his season so far, his neck injury and what it takes to win a championship. Here's the press release:

"Consistency does not win titles, you need to win races"

The Australian rider of the Repsol Honda Team leads the overall standings with an advantage of 20 points after the halfway point of the 2011 season

Leader of the MotoGP World Championship with five victories in ten races, Casey Stoner has started his first season at the Repsol Honda Team taking the initiative in his tough battle with Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo. The victory in his first Grand Prix with the Spanish energy company livery was the best sign of the Australian rider's hunger for victory, and he will arrive to the Czech Republic with an advantage of 20 points at the top of the MotoGP World Championship.

Five victories and four more podiums in 10 races. It does not sound bad at all for a first half of the season, does it?

August 2nd

Repsol Press Release: Another Interview With Dani Pedrosa

The Repsol Media Service continue to bombard the press with press-release interviews with their riders. This time, Repsol spoke to Dani Pedrosa about how his season has gone so far, and how he is recovering from injury. 

Below is the press release interview with Pedrosa:

"I want to be on top form to be able to confront my rivals"

The Repsol rider takes advantage of the summer break to recover physically and confront the last eight Grand Prix of the season in the best form

The Le Mans crash, which prevented him to take points in four races, did not reduce Dani Pedrosa's confidence, and he came back to the championship more eager than ever. The Repsol Honda Team rider already has two victories and three podium —two of them consecutive in the last two races—, with still half of the season to be held. Pedrosa is confident to achieve a good form, before the next round in Brno, in order to increase the number of wins to his name.

Laguna Seca is always the halfway point of the season and the start of the short summer break. Will you be able to switch off? What are your plans?

July 28th

Kenny Roberts On The Yamaha M1: "I Liked My 500 A Whole Lot Better"

One of the more interesting side entertainments at last weekend's Laguna Seca MotoGP round was the return of King Kenny Roberts, who did a couple of demonstration laps on both his 1980 YZR500 and on a specially prepared Yamaha YZF-M1 MotoGP bike. After the ride, he spoke to a small group of (mainly Italian) journalists about the experience of riding the two bikes, and the comparison between the two. Fortunately, the select group of journalists included Jensen Beeler, editor of the excellent motorcycle website Asphalt & Rubber, and Jensen was gracious enough to share the audio of Kenny Roberts talking about the bikes with

Roberts' comments offer a fascinating insight into the difference between the bikes from 30 years ago and the bikes of today, and the difficulties that each bike presents. Back in the late seventies and early eighties, Roberts suggested, you could compensate for a failure in bike setup by over-riding the bike, pushing it to do things it didn't want to do and sliding the bike to compensate. Modern MotoGP machines - exacerbated by electronics and the Bridgestone tires - will go about as fast as physics allowed. The old 500cc two strokes would allow room for creativity, but the modern bikes reward only one thing: complete precision. Where previously, running wide at a corner could be compensated, now, the difference between success and failure is hitting your lines to within a few centimeters. Over-riding a modern MotoGP machine will get you precisely nowhere, and is likely to either make you radically slower or leave you rolling through the gravel traps.

July 21st

Jeremy Burgess On Laguna 2008 - How Valentino Rossi Beat Casey Stoner

Back in the spring of 2010, I was asked by Chris Jonnum, editor of the late and very much lamented motorcycle racing monthly Road Racer X to do a story on the bikes that won the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca throughout the years. The story meant I got to talk to a lot of people about a single subject, and turned up some fascinating material. One of the most interesting interviews I did was with Valentino Rossi's veteran crew chief, Jeremy Burgess about the race that Rossi won at Laguna Seca in 2008, when he beat Casey Stoner in one of the most thrilling races of recent history.

Burgess spoke to me prior to the 2010 French MotoGP round at Le Mans, while Rossi and Burgess were still with the factory Yamaha team, and talked about their strategy in taking on and beating Casey Stoner and the Ducati, what it takes to win at Laguna Seca, and the difference between Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Here's the interview:

MotoMatters: How did the victory at Laguna Seca in 2008 come about?

Jeremy Burgess: I'd have to say it was a pivotal point in the championship to make a statement with Casey. The bike certainly wasn't faster than Casey's bike, but with Laguna being such a unique track, where the straight has a corner on it, a long corner. So it was more of a tactical race than a bike performance race. It was a case of making sure that we were in front of Casey.

July 8th

Honda Press Release: Interview With Casey Stoner

The Honda PR machine continues to work overtime, producing yet another interview, this time with MotoGP championship leader Casey Stoner. Once again, they have excelled themselves, producing a frank and interesting interview that does not sound like it has been through the corporate sanitization process that so many team press releases seem to generate. In it, Stoner talks about the development of the 1000cc 2012 Honda MotoGP machine, how the 1000s might change the racing next year, and how he works with his pit crew to find a setup. An interesting read.

Below is the Honda press release:


Casey Stoner is the most successful rider of the 800cc era. Since the 800cc motors were introduced at Qatar in 2007, where Stoner celebrated his first premier class victory, through last weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, Stoner had won 27 races. The majority came in 2007, when he collected ten race victories en route to the 2007 MotoGP World Championship.

With a brilliant start to this season, the 25-year-old Australian has continued to add to his tally. Through the first eight races Stoner has four wins, a second, and two thirds. The only time he's failed to finish on the podium was at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez when he was knocked out of second place early in the race.

July 1st

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Teleconference: Ben Spies On Winning, Confidence, Tires And Indy

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway press office organized yet another teleconference in the run up to the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at the end of August. This time, the subject of the interview was Ben Spies, a timely choice of interviewee given that the factory Yamaha rider is coming off his first ever MotoGP victory. Here's what Spies had to tell reporters:

Ben Spies
Thursday, June 30, 2011

Note: American MotoGP star Ben Spies participated in a Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference Thursday, June 30 after earning his first career MotoGP victory June 25 at TT Assen at Assen, Netherlands. It was the first MotoGP victory for an American rider since 2006. Spies, 26, from Longview, Texas, led every lap on a Yamaha Factory Racing machine.

Spies will join fellow American MotoGP riders Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards in the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

MODERATOR: It's been kind of rush going from Assen to Mugello. Has it sunk in yet, the victory, or has it just been so busy that you're in the race routine?

June 17th

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Teleconference: Colin Edwards On Injuries, Repaving Indy, And The Honda And Ducati

The ever-industrious press office at Indianapolis Motor Speedway organized another one of its press teleconferences, this time featuring fan and media favorite Colin Edwards. Reporters got a chance to ask some very interesting questions, allowing Edwards to give his opinions on a whole host of subjects, including racing with injury, the repaved sections at Indy, the state of the Hondas and Ducati compared to the Yamaha, riding a satellite bike and the Bridgestone tires. Always fun to listen to, here's what the Texas Tornado had to say:

Colin Edwards
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Note: American MotoGP star Colin Edwards participated in a Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference Thursday, June 16 after a stirring third-place finish Sunday, June 12 at the Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone. It was the first podium finish since July 2009 for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Edwards, 37, from Houston. But the sensational result also came just eight days after Edwards had 13 screws and a titanium plate placed into his collarbone, which was broken in five places during a practice crash Friday, June 3 at the Grand Prix of Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Edwards also suffered torn rib muscles in the crash.

June 7th

Interview: TTXGP Racer Tom Montano Talks About Racing Electric Bikes At The Isle of Man TT

Tom Montano began racing motorcycles in the early 1980s in California, and his career highlights include being WERA D Superbike champion, a 9th at Daytona, and AMA Pro Thunder champ in 2001 on a Ducati 748. At the Isle of Man he finished tenth on a privateer 600 in the Junior TT, and 13th twice, in 2003 on a Ducati 998 and in 2005 on a MV Agusta, both in the Senior TT. He has been an instructor in several racing schools and has continued to race endurance events in Europe. In 2009 Tom rode the first TTXGP aboard the Mission Motors electric motorcycle. I spoke to Tom in December, 2010, about his experience on the e-bike.

MM: Did you get much time on the Mission Motors TTXGP bike before you arrived at the Isle of Man?

Montano: Infineon Raceway said we could come ride the bike between 5 and 7pm any night we wanted, because the bike was quiet and Infineon was one of the sponsors of the bike, so they provided track time. I probably rode it five times just trying to figure out battery and motor usage, that kind of stuff.

MM: What were your first impressions of the electric bike, having ridden gas-powered bikes for so long?

May 19th

Miller Motorsports Park Talks To Eugene Laverty

The latest subject of Miller Motorsports Park's series of interviews with top World Superbike riders is Yamaha's Eugene Laverty. In it, Laverty talks to Miller's John Gardner about his double victory at Monza, working with Melandri, comparisons with Ben Spies and the penalty for Max Biaggi. A very interesting read:

Miller Motorsports Park Presents: Five Questions with Eugene Laverty

A chat with World Superbike's newest overnight sensation

TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (May 17, 2011) — Miller Motorsports Park will again host the USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship on The BigM Weekend presented by Lucas Oil, May 28-30. Leading up to the round at Miller, we have been visiting with race winners and other notable riders participating in the championship after each race during the 2011 season to bring you a new chapter in the "Five Questions with" series.