Casey Stoner Interview: On Riding Fast, Emulating Doohan, Dealing With The Media, And Selective Memory

The switch from Ducati to Honda worked out extraordinarily well for Casey Stoner. The Australian was fast in testing, took victory in his very first race aboard the Honda RC212V at Qatar, and despite a temporary glitch at Jerez, where he was knocked off his bike by Valentino Rossi, the man who had taken his place at Ducati, was leading the championship by the time the MotoGP circus rolled into Assen for the Dutch TT, and would not relinquish it again, going on to secure his second world championship in dominant style, winning 10 races and taking pole 12 times along the way.

We had a chance to interview Stoner at Assen, after he had taken the championship lead from Jorge Lorenzo and just as he appeared to be getting into his stride. During a long and interesting conversation, Stoner covered a lot of ground, discussing subjects as diverse as Bridgestone tires, track memory, options for expanding the grid and the selective memory of race fans. But we started off by trying to winkle Stoner's secret from him, and find out just how the Australian manages to be so fast, right from his very first lap of the track. Here's what he had to say:


MotoMatters: What I want to know, is how come you are so fast? Every time I see the time sheets, it seems like that, as soon as you're out, your first lap will be fairly fast. Your first hot lap will be either top 3, and your second, third lap will be at the top of the time sheets. How do you do that? How come you don't need the time to work towards something?

Casey Stoner: I don't know where it comes from. When I go out there, whether I know the track or I don't, my first laps become more natural. I ride the track naturally. You'll never be as fast riding a track naturally, but it's how I just start out.

Then, once I feel that I've got my pace up a little bit, that's when we start working on set up, we start finding braking points, entry lines, things like that. So the first part I suppose is just not worrying or thinking about it too much. It's just going out there, finding your pace, finding your rhythm, then you can start working on it. There is no point in working on set up when you're three seconds off the pace. So you may as well get there first, unless there is something really badly wrong with the bike.

You know, for me, I just go out there. I already know most of the braking points. If it's a new track I will go and find them. Or just use my vision to try and find those braking points early, and just ride naturally, not thinking about it too much. Just ride to what you see.

MM: You say you just ride naturally. What does that mean, can you explain that?

CS: When you're not riding naturally, you're riding more clinically. You start to think about what the bike's doing; you think about your braking point, how many gears you're going back. As you go into a corner, you're thinking about what the bike is doing, where it's tucking, what sort of position the bike is in. Whether you need a little bit more confidence in the front; what it's doing in what part of the corner; when you're getting on the gas, how much it's turning; if it's not turning, how much it's wheelying...

All these different things you got to go through in your head to try and get the best setup that you can. And those things, I can leave them out of my head when I'm riding the first laps. I'm just worrying about the track. I'm looking at patches, I'm looking at how far they've painted that curve out, I'm looking if they have made a new line to that track at all. If they have put a new bit of tarmac on, something like that.

You're just feeling those points out in the early laps and you don't have to think about those other things until you get used to the track. So basically I'm just leaving my riding very simple, and not having to worry too much about getting the bike set up and thinking of every aspect of the corner.

MM: You almost have like muscle memory of where the limit of the bike is and you can find it almost straight away.

CS: Well, that's why it looks like we're going fast straight away, but we're still quite a long way off the pace. So in the early laps it looks like sometimes we're able to go a lot faster than everyone. It looks like we're a lot faster than everyone and that we're close to lap records, but we're not, we're still a long way off.

It's just that I am able to go out there, roll through the corners a little bit faster, trust the tires and trust my body a little bit more maybe than the others. And so if there is any slipping or sliding, I'll feel it immediately anyway and be able to counteract it.

But like I said, in those early laps, not thinking as much as you normally do when you're trying to get those last few final points of setup.

MM: One of the things which people really struggle with, especially people coming into the class, is the tires, the Bridgestone tires. They take a lot of time to get up to temperature. They are brilliant once they are up to temperature, before that there has been a lot of complaints about them and there have been big accidents with them. Cal Crutchlow said something really interesting. He said there are only two people here who can get tires straight up to temperature in one corner, and that is you and Nicky. Because you go in, hit it full out and the tires grip. Is that how they work, and because you can go out and ride it naturally immediately, is that an advantage?

CS: Myself and Nicky both come from dirt track and riding those things, so we don't mind if the bike moves and slides a little bit around. With Nicky doing it, I guess it's the same sort of thing, he can feel his way around the track rather than trying to make it do it and feel it out and get everything properly warmed up. And sometimes, and especially with the Ducati, it takes a little time to warm the tires up, a little longer than other bikes. So if you can go out there and attack faster, then the tires warm up quicker, and you can still warm up the tires in the same amount of time.

But I've even noticed when I'm on the Honda, I can take my time to warm the tires up, because I know they will come up to temperature. On the Ducati if I never did push hard in that early laps, then they never would quite get up to temperature and we always struggled.

MM: Have you noticed that also in your approach? Because certainly when you were on the Ducati, basically your second lap out and just like that, you'd have a red helmet.

CS: There is something strange with Bridgestone tires. If you go out there, when you first go out on track, sometimes they can be really good. And they feel great, that first half a lap. Silverstone is a perfect example: We were out there and within half a lap, they're great.

That next half a lap or a lap later, they really come back down, so they are actually getting colder. Even though you're pushing reasonably hard, they're actually going colder. So straight away good, then they start tapering off again before they start to properly warm up.

So there's something strange going on with the way their tires work. And when you do have to run them in from something that is not working at all, I mean, you're going through the first couple of laps, or the first lap at least scrubbing the tires. People don't realize when we're scrubbing the tires, we're actually losing the front, losing the rear the whole time in the first lap. It's just like you're in the wet. You stick your knee out, you scrub, the front tire closes and it just "kkkrrrkkkrrkkrr" it pushes across the track. Just trying to get rid of whatever film is on top.

And I don't know why they have done it. When I rode with them in 2007, 2008, they weren't still great at that sort of thing, we struggled a lot more than the Michelin's at warming up, but not quite as much as the way they are now. They seem to be really just trying to cut costs, I guess, they have to make them this way to make sure they last, to make sure they can get the life out of them. For testing, for other reasons, not just finishing a race distance, but for actually getting distance out of them in testing.

It just makes things difficult for us sometimes when we just can't get them scrubbed in, we can't get them warmed up. And until you basically almost break the carcass, with some heavy braking and heavy pressure on the tire, it just doesn't want to work, you can't get any feel in it. But if you give it two or three laps and make your way slowly, progressively get faster, then it's fine, it'll come up to temperature. Unless we're at a track where we not working one side hard enough, then normally they'll come up to temperature fine.

MM: One of my readers said that he thought that, especially on the Ducati, the way you got it to turn was, you would almost flick it, it would almost force a crash, and that would get the tires to grip and get the bike to turn. Is he imagining things or was that the way it was working?

CS: No, it kind of looked like that, because as I was getting on the gas, with the Ducati it's quite aggressive, so as we cracked it, the rear would come around and at that exact point I would flick it up, because if I just stayed down, it wouldn't come around, it wouldn't get the drive. So basically you can't pick the bike up when you're not on the gas. So you need to be on the gas, so first you need to crack the gas. Once you crack it, then you can pick the bike up. So it was just in that exact moment that I was picking the bike up, the rear would just crack a little bit and step away from me on the edge of the tire. But once I picked it up it would be fine.

MM: Nicky Hayden said about your throttle control, that your throttle control is just that little bit better in the last seven or eight percent of the throttle. Do you think that's your strongest point as a rider? What is your strongest point as a rider?

CS: I don't really know. I don't think that I have one strong point. It's not braking; accelerating, I would say that's Dani's strong point, his accelerating. Jorge is quite a balanced rider; I feel that I am quite balanced. Jorge is quite heavy on the brakes. I am sort of more or less in the middle, of most things, I don't feel that I've got one strong point that is better than the others, in any particular way. I just think I try and balance everything out the best I can and try and get advantage in whatever area is my worst.

I think, the biggest point I can get, is part of why I am faster than the others, is I don't need to look at data to find out where I'm slow, why I'm slow. Occasionally, if I'm having big problems in one area, I'll have a look. That rarely happens, I normally know where I need to improve, and where I don't need to improve, and sort of stick to that without seeing any data or anything. So I normally understand what I need to do, or what the bike needs to do.

MM: How do you know this, where does this knowledge come from? Is it from riding dirt track? Whenever I speak to you, you certainly have an interesting level of technical knowledge. You seem to understand the nuts and bolts, part of the engineering. Where does that come from?

CS: I think, the engineering side of things, most riders that have enough feeling should be able to understand it. We know what a bike does most of the time and we make certain changes on the bike, and what balance we change on the bike and how it reacts. So in theory we should all have some knowledge of engineering for this reason.

So for me it's just a matter of learning, watching, listening, and most of the time you can figure things out. When you are completely lost it's the hardest thing, but when you find something after you have been lost for a long time, that knowledge is embedded with you. So you can understand why it worked and why it helped and in what way.

And sometimes the roles will be completely reversed. In the past, in 125 days and British championships, if a bike wasn't turning, you put a little more weight on the front, and if you didn't have grip, you put a little more weight on the rear, but it's not quite that simple these days. But you learn things and you know some of them are dead simple, that if it's not doing this then we'll move it that way a bit, and that's going to work, but sometimes it's completely the opposite. And you're sort of scratching your head. You're just trying to think outside of the box and trying to figure things out for your self, rather than go with the flow and everybody else and following like a sheep.

MM: Do you have a good memory? Just in general. [Adriana nods vigorously] If Adriana says you have got a good memory, that means you have a good memory. Because the things you're saying, you have absorbed basically from riding for so long. But you still have to remember everything. So for example, can you remember what happened at every race?

CS: No. Some races stick out to me a lot more vividly than others. I can see almost everything the way it happened and what happened. Other things, like Cristian [Gabbarini, his crew chief] will come in and say "we're going to use the setup that we used here," and so on and so on, and I'm like, what was that? Because I have no clue so he has to go and redo it again. And other things, I'll be straight on it.

So things stick with me that seem to be important, and don't stick with me the ones that don't seem to be important. I seem to have a good filter, that I don't purposely do. But when I need to know something or remember something that is really important, than normally I will remember it. If it's less important or something that didn't really go correctly then whether it's something to take a lesson from or whether it's something you don't need, it just seems to filter itself.

I don't really have set points. I like learning some things and things I'm interested in, and I want to be able to remember more, but I still can't. So it just seems that sometimes I remember the right things and sometimes not.

MM: We talked about your strong points. What about your weak points? What is it that you think is your weakest point as a rider?

CS: Honestly, again, bits and pieces of everything. There is not one thing I am really weak at. I used to be weak at overtaking. Not weak, but I think too polite, I never wanted to upset other riders and stand them up and do things like that. And now because that's happened to me so many times, I just don't care. But I think in the past it was maybe overtaking, setting the bike up to be better on the brakes, that was something we struggled with a lot, was on the brakes, especially in 2007 and 2008.

But since that time, now I'm known to be one of the strongest, especially on Ducati the last two years. People really struggled to ever pass me, so now it's one of my stronger points and I've sort of balanced that out again to where it's at a good level.

But it's the same with my weaknesses as with my strengths. I think more or less it's a little bit of everything. I've still got to become stronger at. I'm still not the rider I want to be, I think I can be a lot better. I think I can explain to the crew a lot better. I think we can get the bike a lot better. It's just all little bits and pieces here and there that I think I can be a lot better at.

MM: Who is the rider that you want to be?

CS: Bits and pieces of a lot of people, to be honest. There is a lot of people out there that all had really strong points and weak points. But I would say out of most I always wanted to be Mick Doohan. He is a person I have basically based my career on. I have always wanted to, not necessarily become like, but he is my idol. He is the person that I looked up to and I respected what he did.

I think people forget how many championships he won, with a really bad leg, you know? People don't give him enough respect for it. He's not forgotten, but almost forgotten in this paddock. They're all that obsessed with statistics and results, that they forget what some riders had to come through and endure. And I think that's disappointing in today's day and age. So Mick is definitely the person I look up to for what he did and I am sure he's got weak points that he will tell you that as well, as a balance. I think it's a mixture of a few different riders, but the much bigger part would be Mick.

MM: It's funny, I was talking to Dennis Noyes earlier about Mick Doohan, and he said, the worst one to deal with as a journalist was Mick, because Mick would pick fights with journalists. Sometimes your relationship with the press has been difficult. Have you struggled with that as well?

CS: I definitely struggle with the media. I wasn't brought up around it, you know. I was an outcast in terms of media. People didn't really look after me with it. They just put me in a room with them, some of my old teams, and they never looked after me, never helped me with it. I would sit there for hours having questions asked to me, just because they wouldn't cut it short, so it just becomes heavy on you. And it's not what racing was about to me.

Yet I was getting attacked so many times, so many different things that weren't my fault. And if I did make a mistake, mine was so much bigger than somebody else's. And it was frustrating, you know. Also during my time with Ducati, we had a lot of other commitments and a lot of other things, and a lot of pressure. And I won the championship in '07, but I got more recognition and more respect in 2008 when we didn't win it. So it becomes quite frustrating.

Even this year, when I won in 07, they said I was riding the best bike out there. And whenever I win, obviously my bike was the best. It seems to be like that again this year. So it's, something I've got to take as a compliment really, because any bike I go and win on, they all seem to just think it's not possible for me to win until I'm on the best bike. I suppose it's a compliment, but it's hard work.

MM: A couple of questions about the direction of MotoGP. First of all, you once said you would like to ride at Spa Francorchamps. it's one of my favorite tracks, it's a wonderful track. And you've also talked about the danger, the joy being the danger. Spa is an incredibly dangerous track.

CS: That's maybe with the racing the way it is these days, it's too much. If you go back even to the early '90s, you go and watch the 500 races. And you will see them leaving meters from the curb. Nobody was touching that white line every lap. People were leaving a lot of room. And that is what the limit was in those days, that's how far they were willing to push.

They could take 30, 40, 50 meters off each other on the brakes, no problem, pass three, four guys on the brakes, make the turn, no dramas. You just can't do that these days. It's just everything is becoming that much more precise, and people are running it out to the limits. And to have walls and barriers around, I think it's just getting too much, you know?

MotoGP, I don't think everything's becoming that much more safe. There is still the risk factor there. But I think with the lower categories, 125 and Moto2, they're running off on the grass. And because there is no grass, there is astroturf or there is tarmac across chicanes. They're just running across and joining back. There is no penalty for that, they use every fricking inch of the extra tarmac runoff area, and not stay on the track.

I think that sort of thing, I am getting really sick and tired of seeing, to be honest. People are using every bit of track and much much more, and not getting any penalty for it.

I have seen a lot of people run off, Le Mans isn't too bad, because there is not really a big runoff area yet. But Catalunya, it's all tarmac the whole way through there. Whoosh, they pick it up, and nail it through again, go back the way they were. And it should be "No, you made a mistake, you ran off, deal with it."

That's why it's hard to watch sometimes, they just don't seem to be afraid. There is no grass there, at the edge of the track now, there's astroturf. They can run on it and come back on, and come back on half crossed-up. But if there was grass there, people don't really want to run off, because when you run on the grass, it's a little more slippery.

MM: So you think fear would create better discipline, greater punishment? You know, have gravel or grass where you could fall off would create a bit more discipline among the riders?

CS: Definitely! I think there wouldn't be so many outrageous maneuvers. I think people would give each other a bit more respect. For example, the last two corners in Misano, there's grass right up against the edge of the curve and no one runs off there. And if they do, they back off and bring it back on track, instead of just pinning it and coming back on in the middle of the field. it's quite a lot different.

With those factors gone, racing is getting a little bit loose. With some overtaking moves that needs to be rethought and punished. And also these years the punishments are becoming so random… So yeah, today we'll punish someone, but tomorrow, oh yeah, that's fine you know? There's no consistency to their decisions at all. Racing has changed definitely, especially in the last six, seven years. It would be nice to get back to the old days, when people had respect for each other.

MM: Next year we got the 1000s. There doesn't look like being very many bikes on the grid [this interview was held at Assen, before the size of the CRT entries was made public, when the grid looked like being 14 bikes at most - MM] How would you fix that? Do you have any idea about how to get more bikes onto the grid?

CS: Well, as I explained before, they should never have changed the capacity of the category. They should have gone into a little bit more depth and detail about going to 800s before they decided to. Because as soon as they got the 800s and more bikes started arriving into walls than ever before, maybe they realized that going back 200cc wasn't improving safety. It just increased corner speed.

That wasn't the right way to go obviously, and they should have maybe thought about that a little bit more, before they go and change the entire capacity, which has no relevance for streetbikes and capacity of the streetbikes. There's no link, people know when they are buying a 1000 road bike, it's nothing like the 800. It's not the same bike.

So things like that, I think, it was a pretty immature decision. I think if they stay at 1000 and like the old 500 days they can pass back older models that would help. The riders on them are going to know, okay, we're not going to be quite as competitive on these older bikes, but at least they will be able to be in there and give it a show. There is gonna be more people in between and I think there would be a lot more interesting racing.

But as for this whole thing, that it's supposed to be the electronics making the biggest difference, that's just not the case. You know, if you look at Superbikes, there is still some great racing going on there, and they've all got electronics as well. So I don't think that has anything to do with it. it's just that now, it's becoming such a precise sport. Everybody is on the limit.

MM: … it's a more professional sport ...

CS: Exactly, whoever was able to stand out above the rest on that day, they are going to win.

MM: So they're not going between 90% and 91%, but 99.001% or 99.002% …

CS: Something like that. I mean, a perfect example, Barry Sheene and them used to smoke and do all sorts of stuff on the grid and they did not need to train. But nowadays, if you're not fit enough to be ready to go on that last lap, then you're not going to be ready to win.

So there are a lot of things that have changed since the past years of racing. That is what people need to realize. it's never going to be what it was. And actually, if they go back and watch the old races, they are going to realize it was not what they expected. They've got some great memories for some races that I have gone and rewatched, and they ain't what they said they were.

So, we still have some fantastic races each year, and that is all they seem to remember. They remember the nineties. If you go over ten years of our racing as well, there is some great races in there. If you go over ten years of the nineties, there is some great races in there. If you say, ninety-three or ninety-six ...

MM: There are maybe three, four great races ...

CS: Exactly, people have looked at this as a whole, rather then one single season. If in 2030, they look back then they're gonna go, oh yeah, you know, the 2000s had some great racing. And then they're just going to forget about the other races. So everyone at that time is always thinking about what used to be and what was great in the past, but they never realize what is now.

MM: Because every race gets compared against a decade.

CS: Exactly, and that's not fair.

The switch from Ducati to Honda worked out extraordinarily well for Casey Stoner. The Australian was fast in testing, took victory in his very first race aboard the Honda RC212V at Qatar, and despite a temporary glitch at Jerez, where he was knocked off his bike by Valentino Rossi, the man who had taken his place at Ducati, was leading the championship by the time the MotoGP circus rolled into Assen for the Dutch TT, and would not relinquish it again, going on to secure his second world championship in dominant style, winning 10 races and taking pole 12 times along the way.We had a chance to interview Stoner at Assen, after he had taken the championship lead from Jorge Lorenzo and just as he appeared to be getting into his stride. During a long and interesting conversation, Stoner covered a lot of ground, discussing subjects as diverse as Bridgestone tires, track memory, options for expanding the grid and the selective memory of race fans. But we started off by trying to winkle Stoner's secret from him, and find out just how the Australian manages to be so fast, right from his very first lap of the track. Here's what he had to say:

Comments

It's funny...

But if you pay attention it becomes clear to see that he conducts himself off the track the same way way he does on the track... He is confident and precise in both his riding style and approach, as well as in his opinions and convictions...

It's fascinating.

Total votes: 93

Great interview

Thanks for sharing David, a well balanced and informative interview.

Total votes: 95

Stoner interview

Good interview David. Casey seemed to enjoy your questions and became very expansive in his insights, well done! Massively interesting answers about cornering and set-up.

Total votes: 86

The Good Ole Days racing

Dittos to what Stoner said about the races in the past. Go watch the old races back in the '90s on the official MotoGP site and you'll see what he means. Many, many race grids had at the back of the grid bikes that were 3-5 seconds off the pace of the pole sitter. And in the race itself many times the winner was 15-20 seconds in the front at the end of the race. As an example would be Biaggi in his first race for Honda. The yr I forget.

The good ole days were not always that good. Such is life.

Total votes: 96

biaggis first win on the honda ...

... was one of the greatest displays of superiority i've ever seen ... lapping almost everyone and wheelie-ing almost the complete last lap (almost giving mr. kanemoto a heart atack)

Total votes: 77

Speed Intuition

I think Casey's intuitive understanding of speed is by far his strongest attribute. He showed that he had powers of intuition during the 2007 season when he decoded both the Bridgestone tires and cantankerous GP7, better than anyone else in the field. I'm not surprised to hear that he conceptualizes speed in his mind without much emphasis on datalogging b/c it is consistent with the way he rides and his 3-lap-troubleshooting-technique. I think Rossi and Lorenzo have similar abilities as well. Rossi demonstrated his understanding of speed when he went to Yamaha and worked on developing a completely different kind of motorcycle (not mass centralized) and tires with Michelin. Lorenzo showed his comprehension of speed when he rode the 2010 Bridgestones to perfection.

I do find Stoner's remarks about the 800s a bit odd. He says that a reduction in capacity was the reason the bikes went faster in the corners, but I think it is pretty clear that the fuel-restriction and the resulting tire development were the real problem for the sport. The best way to save fuel is to lay off the brakes so the bike doesn't have to be accelerated again.

Total votes: 90

Interesting how he makes no

Interesting how he makes no reference to #46

Total votes: 92

why interesting?

he was only comparing to frontruners ;)

Total votes: 84

why mention him?

You don't think #46 gets enough press? Stoner is smart enough to know that anything he says can be mis-represented or interpreted, no need to bait the sharks. Brilliant interview Mr Emmett, fair as always.

Total votes: 80

Thanks

I love hearing/reading Stoner Interviews. Please try get some next year also David.
He is truly fascinatingly precise & honest.
JL, DP & VR have ok English but Casey is the only native speaker so I guess that has something to do with the detail level in his interviews also? We don't really hear as much from Spies or Crutchlow, & Colin is alwasy goofing around & cussing.

What is Cristian Gabbarini like? I don't think I've ever seen him in an interview. I don't even know what he looks like. J.Burgess gets so much attention (especially from the BBC coverage!), I think I saw about 15 Burgess interviews this year. Can you try to get some time with Cristian too next year?
(I remember this interview, but would be cool to hear more from him, or any of the other top crew chiefs for that matter)

Total votes: 86

was going through withdrawal since the season ended

this interview definitely satisfied my fix. Thanks for writing up such an insightful interview. i don't think there is any other media/journo source with such quality and accessibility

Total votes: 98

Be very afraid....

"I'm still not the rider I want to be, I think I can be a lot better."

Total votes: 102

Great interview

Certainly deserving of an award from Dean Adams for facing incredible danger and coming out with excellent information (or had you chained Stoner to the wall before you started?).

I was fascinated to read that my theory of the 'flick turn' was sort of half-assed right - that I wasn't seeing things that weren't there, but that what was actually happening was different to my idea. How fast is his reaction time and how good is his ability to feel what is happening to get the balance of spinning it up and picking it up to happen in the right instant? Electronics, be damned..

Stoner's somewhat perplexing habit of very short runs in practice now starts to make sense - he was getting the bike to the point of producing the necessary information extremely quickly and then going in to the pits to change things. A 'profile' article that draws together not only his commentary but that of his team managers etc. since the LCR days would make for a great insight into the make-up of a top-line motoGp rider and how complex a mix of skills is required.

Total votes: 84

The same thing?

Oscar, did Stoner actually answer the question?
"as I was getting on the gas, with the Ducati it's quite aggressive, so as we cracked it, the rear would come around and at that exact point I would flick it up, because if I just stayed down, it wouldn't come around, it wouldn't get the drive"
Isn't this more a description of the second half of a corner, when the the last bit of turning is being done with the rear with the bike stood up slightly?
The "flick turn" (as I was reading it) was a supposition more about corner entry to get the Ducati to turn into the corner ie before the period of maximum lean?

Total votes: 88

Not quite the same thing, no

Your recollection of the 'flick turn' theory is correct, I was more concentrated on corner entry - but unless Stoner had read that (and not fallen over laughing to himself..) then his answer is very probably to what he thought he was being asked - or he's quite deliberately not revealing all the tricks he used. Given the stuff we have recently seen from the Ducati camp re their analysis of his data and the relative difficulty (I won't say impossibility, though I think Capirossi has pretty much said that) of duplicating that particular style, it's very possible that Stoner doesn't feel like holding classes in how to do it right at the moment. Let's be realistic here - having Rossi admit that he feels he can't ride it that way must be considerable balm to Stoner's heart.

Having said all that, I really, really wish we had some super-slo-mo shots of Stoner entering corners on the Duc, I still think he was doing something that is so counter-intuitive to the way most of we vastly-lesser road-riding mortals ride that it'd be marvellous (and possibly terrifying) to watch.

Total votes: 93

You could be right and I

You could be right and I would love to see some of those slo-mo shots too.
When you think about some of the comments made about Casey's style and it being nigh on impossible to replicate .. more than one rider has said that, as has Vito Guareschi in an interview in GPweek where he said he has tried for years and has managed to only replicate a small amount of Casey's style during testing.
Add to that Ben Spies comment where he states that when he follows Lorenzo, Rossi etc and he can see and understand what they are doing and feels he can try and replicate it to help him with his style/riding and to go faster, yet when he follows Casey he has no idea what he is doing or how!
Quite amazing.

Total votes: 100

Great interview

David

Great job, I love hearing Stoner talk about racing, can we have more next year? There was a good interview in AMCN a few issues back with Jorge Lorenzo which was similar.

One thing I don't understand about Casey's management is the lack of Stoner merchandise. At the Australian GP this year there was not much available and a lot of it was old ducati era stuff. It would be great to see more stoner shirts and caps and flags etc overseas to show his fan base. I have read that at the european races stoner gear is hard to get.

Total votes: 84

Ah, the good old days

Excellent interview.

I especially enjoyed Casey mentioning how people (MM also indulges in the same practice) like to hark back to the good old days in contrast to the racing of the 800 era. People should just enjoy watching racing while they still can, in years to come it may become even more over-regulated as the world becomes more and more of a nanny-state. Racing will not always deliver to you the perfect spectacle, don't expect it to be so every time you're trackside or in front of the box. I enjoy watching bikes every time no matter what, a close race will make it more exciting, but I love racing regardless, no complaints.

Total votes: 101

The good old days......

Those would be the days when Ago et al would win GP's by 5 or 10 minutes. Close racing only existed in the early laps until the leading lights found their pace and cleared off!
Ok these days we expect a show and consider a win by 5 seconds to be a win by country mile. It's actually hard to understand the attraction of racing in the classic era....maybe it was the accessibility of the riders, mechanics and machinery and the down to earth attitude of all concerned?

Total votes: 90

To Be Clear...

Stoner was talking about the differences between now and the '90s. But his points about the 800s being a step back are important. As someone who went back and watched every 990cc era race, the 800s have definitely provided less of a show.

Total votes: 95

Excellent interview David.

Excellent interview David. Fascinating stuff.

Total votes: 103

I'm a bit biased, but thanks.

Regardless of whether or not I'm a Stoner fan, I love the way he reveals his mindset and philosophies on racing. As someone else said, perhaps aided by the fact he is a native English speaker.
Also, I share his admiration for Mick.
Admittedly Mick only has 5 titles, (!!!) but to race, let alone win, given the state of his leg, must have taken huge inner strength, both physical and mental.

Thanks for the inteview

Total votes: 91

Bridgestone

The rise of Bridgestone in MotoGP came about when Formula 1 went to a control tyre & Bridgestone (F1) no longer had a need for many of the engineering staff.
So they were all shunted over to the motorcycle division & we now see the results, F1 tyres on motorbikes.
Drivers & riders both say the same thing, you have to push straight away to get tyre temp or they will not work.
Belief is a powerfull tool & Casey has it in abundance.
As well as inbuilt traction control in his right hand. (Which is nice)

Total votes: 81

Excellent

Great points

Total votes: 87

First half of interview

First half of interview answers were terrible, just garbage. Makes little sense. "Er, uh, you know" Restate a previous phrase every other sentence, riding naturally, riding clinically, riding clinically natural, looking for braking points he already knows, work on setup after riding clinically and naturally. The damn statement was, and Im paraphrasing, How do you go so well so early? and then Stoner tells us why he is so slow so early.....huh??? Anyway the interview got much better the second half when talking of other riders, penalties, turf vs. grass, Doohan, Bridgestone (although that wasn't exactly clear either), clowning Honda for dropping bike capacity to 800 even though he rides for Honda and so on. Nice job David. Stoner gets 2.5 stars for this one. To his credit, he is forthright and gives honest answers most of the time which is nice. Not a big fan of athlete interviews but there are nuggets worth searching for through the usual, obligatory destruction of the English language.

Total votes: 135

David, can you revise the commenting system

So it is possible to give zero stars to a comment?

He's a professional motorcycle racer in a verbal interview, not a writer. If you want prose go to the library or wait for David's race reports. I think his answers were clear and very detailed with no evasion or disparagement of others.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 114

my thoughts...

Im reading into him referring times from FP1 throughout the weekend. Say the last time at a particular track, he remembers in the race doing X:XX:XX time, then a year later some second/s off of that pace in the first practice sessions. As in, "just because I was fastest in that practice, does not mean it felt fast compared to what I'm able to do later in the weekend."

Total votes: 81

My fault

That, perhaps, was my fault. I couldn't get the answer I was looking for out of Casey Stoner, and I didn't push him hard enough. I suspect that he has internalized so much of this that he is no longer capable of speaking about it consciously, that it is so self-evident to him that he can't understand why anyone would ask.

So yes, that was my fault. 

Total votes: 75

I loved every part of this interview...

This was one superb interview with Stoner.

It was great that you went back and had Casey explain himself a bit better
on what "natural" meant...

I also liked how you asked what his weaknesses were later on in the interview...vs. right after the "what are your strengths" question...good stuff.

Total votes: 81

The real thing.

I loved this interview, and I don't mind the 'destruction of English language' in it. This is a conversation, not a sitcom. I think David prefers pretty literal transcriptions since this reflects the thoughts of the rider best and I couldn't agree more. Other journalists polish up interviews, often resulting in a generic tone of voice where you don't know anymore what actually, factually, has been said.

Total votes: 93

great stuff

great stuff

Total votes: 79

Probably the best Casey interview i have read.

Thanks David for this, there`s been so little information anywhere. Iv`e been having bad withdrawls no petrol power sport anywhere. I just wish i could ride at the pace Casey feels is so slow.
Thank`s for all your efforts through the season and hope you and your family have a great christmas and new year, and the same to all motorsport fan`s everywhere.

Total votes: 74

caseys slow pace ...

85% of the grid would love to ride at caseys slow pace ...

Total votes: 79

Another torch cast towards the mysteries of top level motoGP

Wow, well done. Hat's off to you to get such a good amount of information in one interview. While many riders and Casey in particular chafe at the media maybe if the media asked intelligent and informed questions in a way that engages rather than provokes them we'd get more interviews like this. No criticism in any particular direction but this interview was a gem amongst much sludge.

It must be difficult for these riders to convey what they learned and honed over a lifetime. Casey's had a throttle in his hand more often than not for more than 80% of the time he's had a pulse. Can't be easy to articulate what has become an innate sense to those who don't share it as such. Might be much like if one could have asked Michelangelo how he uses a brush and paint to create his images. This interview was refreshing in that Casey detailed particular aspects of his thinking and riding.

Apart from the insight to his approach and methodology this interview really highlights one thing in particular. Mastery of the tires is essential to existence on the MotoGP grid. I agree wholeheartedly that parading out statistics is a poor way of looking at or understanding history or the story of now. What this interview leaves me with is that beyond all the peculiarities and differences between the various riders it is he who may have mastered the Bridgestones in a way that may give him that edge regardless of the bike he's on. Toni Elias comes to mind on the opposite side of the Bridgestone spectrum. A fantastic rider by all measures but one who has not solved the riddle of the rubber while #27 has broken the code and waging war with what they tell him.

p.s. I'm going to have to buy a calender or become a site contributor or something. This stuff is too good to just get for free.

Total votes: 95

I am new here

but this comment doesn't fit with the rest:

"To his credit, he is forthright and gives honest answers most of the time which is nice. Not a big fan of athlete interviews but there are nuggets worth searching for through the usual, obligatory destruction of the English language."

I love this site, so much detail, which I just crave. Stoner is the finest rider on the finest bike and gives THE BEST interview, just no BS whatever. He absolutely positively speaks his mind. Fascinating to hear the inner working of a rider of that level of talent with no "PR-speak" whatsoever. No spin, no ulterior motives, just THE TRUTH as he sees it.

Total votes: 101

a Great Champion...

Stoner said in another interview (sportrider, I think) that his performances are credited to the bike he's riding and not to his abilities! He should be given more respect and credit for what he's done on the Honda in his 1st year with the Repsol squad. How many years has Dani NOT taken the title with the Repsol team? Granted, he managed to get the Ducati to work in ways that other riders failed but he's also doing the same with the Honda now. And he's not the rider he wants to be yet. He may break Doohan's records if he stays where he is now. Eagerly waiting for the 2012 season.

Total votes: 89

Casey Stoner

Thanks David - I thought you asked many of the questions I have puzzled over, and that Casey answered them well. I sensed he enjoyed the interview more so than most he's done.

I have always wondered why he went so fast in the first few laps of QP1. Like you said, red helmet on lap 3!!! We've witnessed that for years. I think his answer reflects a uniquely straight forward philosophy. That is, he sees no value in making tuning adjustments until he is up to full pace. That's a pretty bold approach in my experience. One that few riders share. Rossi, Lorenzo and Spies, for example, typically go out slow and build pace incrementally tire-by-tire and session-by session. They also ride a lot more laps in the the process. On the other hand, they seem to reach their peak pace well before the race anyways, so maybe Stoner's method isn't that advantageous. Interesting none-the-less.

I also was struck by his statement that in the early laps of FP1 he rides 'naturally', and goes on to explain that means he's only riding the track and not thinking about much other than the track.

Maybe sometime during 2012 you can interview Lorenzo and ask him why he takes so long to get up to pace?
There must be a reason that he is so methodical in working up his pace.

Lastly, I am truly surprised that Casey is so sensitive to his critics giving credit to his bikes, rather than him. I would think he'd have been over that long ago. It's sort of naive, don't you think? Certainly amusing.

Anyway, good stuff. Thanks

Total votes: 100

Stoner and the 'best bike' paradigm

I think it is not unreasonable that Stoner feels a bit slighted by the continual, almost grinding way that the 'he only won because he had the best bike' story is trotted out. In '07, that was an almost overwhelming reaction - that continues in myth even now, that it was '15k faster' - when the actual race stats. show it was rarely more than a couple of k faster, Qatar excepted. Nobody, it seemed, considered Capirex's performance on the '07 bike that year to be more a measure of the bike's capability - despite '06 being one of his best (indeed probably the best) years in motoGp.

Then suddenly in '11, Stoner reverses Honda's results tally dramatically - and it's the dominant bike again story. More tellingly, with the Ducati now being ridden by the benchmark racer of the field, when Ducati's results sheet goes into free-fall, it's all the bike - and worse, it's because Stoner 'can't develop', or 'was taking it backwards'.

If you are someone doing a good job with tools that require extra effort to succeed at the top level, it is pretty natural to hope that people will recognise your contribution to the total result.

Total votes: 100

Last corner of the year

Not wishing to degenerate into a Casey vs anyone slanging match, but I agree. The last corner of the year is a perfect example of this. Most reporting simply said he used the "superior power" of the Honda to out-drag Spies to the line, as if it was an american car chase scene and all he needed to do to go faster was twist the throttle further open.

Unless the Yam was down 20hp due to fuel management, there is no way Stoner could have pulled on Ben like he did. OK, the Honda is a wee bit better but not anywhere near the extent shown in that manoeuvre. Stoner had the perfect line and drive (as he pointed out) and Ben got a stinker, losing drive over the ripple strip and pit entry painted area etc.

Casey snatched a masterful win from the jaws of defeat simply through riding better than the other guy, and most reporting put it down to the bike.

Total votes: 110

Same Thing Qatar 2010

The same thing happened to Nicky Hayden in Qatar 2010, when Andrea Dovizioso pipped him down the line on the last corner. Nicky said it himself, that he flubbed the corner and Andrea just did a better job of corner exit.

To play Devil's Advocate however, I have this feeling that what Nicky says to the press and what goes on under his congenial demeanor might not be the same, and if indeed he thinks that the Honda simply beat his Ducati, then there's no way he'd ever say it out loud or even really try to defend himself at the risk of making his Employer look bad, so he just casually says "my bad".

The only ones who really know are the riders, and perhaps even to them it's a mystery because of the thousands of factors going on in every second of racing.

Total votes: 84

In a nutshell?

It's not fair..
No wonder the merchandise is a bit thin on the ground?

Total votes: 102

Because we measure greatness

in the number of caps and tee-shirts sold?

Total votes: 98

That's it.....

I'm getting a CS#27 Nolan helmet on Ebay now for my Christmas present. Ha ha...Previously I am looking at AVG Five Continents.

Total votes: 90

Great interview

Great interview David, first time that I have heard Casey open up.

Cheers

Total votes: 92

Memorable interview

I have read a number of interviews with Stoner over the years and this one surely ranks up among the best. It would appear that Casey is comfortable being interviewed by David and with good reason. He can rely on Mr.Emmet not to distort what he says into something that will stir up controversy and promote rider bashing. Well done David. No doubt asking the right questions is also what makes for a great interview.

Total votes: 94

CS interview

Very well done, David.

If your excellent site hadn't convinced me to renew my subscription (it did, many times over), this interview certainly did.

Keep it up in 2012. Thanks.

Total votes: 88

STONER, ROSSI, DUCATI

There was a good interview I read online at Cycle News , dated 12-15-2011. It's relevant to the interview by Mr Emmet imho. That interview also made me have a little more respect for Rossi after reading it. Respect I had lost over the last four/five yrs.

Feel free to delete this post is it collides with some forum rule I'm not aware of. Heck, I've been deleted more often than not over at Krashnet. Water off a ducks back.

Total votes: 89

Casey

This was a very good interview. Casey commented that he used to have a problem overtaking. That was probably the only flaw I noticed with him when he was in the 125s. He used to sit too close coming out of the high speed corners to take advantage of the slipstream down the long straights. This isn't a problem in the larger classes. He certainly has the skill to become one of the all time greats.

Total votes: 103

Stoner is already one of the

Stoner is already one of the greats. What is significant is that Stoner has won all his races and championships to date in the Rossi era. His overall stats for the 800 era are much better than Rossi's. Rossi is the modern standard, the rider who some people say is the GOAT (a reasonable claim, although highly debatable). When we consider that Stoner on a Ducati won a championship and more races than Rossi when Rossi was on a Yamaha, it is by any measure a remarkable achievement. Stoner's 2011 championship was almost flawless. It is hard to imagine how anyone, including Rossi at his best, could have done a better job than Stoner in 2011. Love him or hate him Stoner is an exceptional talent, something now generally acknowledged by people in the sport whose opinions matter.

Total votes: 84

Thank you

Great interview, I enjoyed it very much.

Total votes: 96

Nice Christmas present

Thanks for that, a most enjoyable read. Still can't get over that a lot of people (if you believe the web) think that today's racing is boring.
I've been watching bike racing since the 70's and each decade has had it's heroes, high points and low points, punctuated with good and bad racing. I see no differently through the 2000's and am always in awe of Caseys talent, so too most other riders.

Total votes: 83

Interview

David, great interview. It sounds as if you all were sitting in his backyard with a couple of beers. Casey sounded as relaxed as I have ever heard him.

When you asked Stoner about how he gets out the blocks running low times so quickly, his answer made sense to me. And truthfully, I think you may be helping some of his rivals that get all frazzled when they try to do the same as him. It sounded as if he just rides the circuit, finding a good flow to the circuit where it builds momentum naturally. The natural flow of the circuit. Then, from there he dives in and really tries to shave off time. For him that is normal. For average people, no. Even his world class rivals, no.

Then the flick turn. The way you got him to open up about all that and explain to the best of his ability what he is doing. His feelings on older races. To his feelings that many other riders try moves because they know they can getaway with more due to runoff....great read.

Total votes: 75

True genius is thinking outside the box

I remember the very talented Australian production racer Tony Hatton co-rding with Graeme Crosby in a 3 hour production race in Adelaide. Hatton could not get close to Cros's times so Cros took him for a pillion lap and showed him what he was doing on the left-hander into the speed bowl at Adelaide International Raceway.
No matter how hard he tried Hatton could not emulate what Cros was doing, because it was so counter-intuitive to established cornering techniques.
Cros had the best right hand of his era, and he was able to use those skills to hammer into the off camber, and rather than lean and counter-steer to make the corner, as most of us would do, he sat up and braked hard and turned the bars left and drifted on the front wheel under brakes whilst gassing up the rear to bring it around. Crazy stuff, and brilliant to watch from where I was standing, and it made him so mauch faster on entry into the bowl section that he was able during the race to overtake Mike Hailwood on his Ducati and wave left handed to the crowd as he did it.
Genius.
And that is the sort of crazy skills that separates the wheat from the chaff.
And Casey into a corner has that crazy shit going on too. I love that photo of him already sideways well before the apex of the left hander (was it Imola??). Pure genius.

Great interview, David, and I think that the trust you generate within the MotoGP community is being well and truly repaid when media-shy people like Casey open up to you in the manner he did.

Season's Greetings to all, may 2012 be full of fabulous racing.
Me, I'm off to Peru to watch the Dakar. Colour me lucky.......

Total votes: 81

Crikey, let's not get too carried away here

Undoubtedly Stoner is pure genius on a motorcycle but the way he describes building pace over a weekend is nothing more than your average club racer does!

Total votes: 80

Yeah, but what is interesting...

... is that it is implied from the interview that this is different from other (some? most?) riders at that level. The factory teams all have extremely accurate models of how their bikes should behave around each circuit and must know from their simulations the optimal braking points, etc. F1 drivers will spend hours in simulators perfecting their ideal lap prior to ever turning a wheel. Stoner implies that he tries to go fast then starts to look at the data and see where he can improve. Do other MotoGP riders spend more time early locking in their 'track settings' rather than just riding the track, maybe proving the data from the simulation on a corner by corner basis?

I'd love to hear Lorenzo or Spies responses to the same set of questions. What preparation do they need to do before a race that is required to compete at this level and/or not available to 'your average club racer'?

Total votes: 81

Bend it like Stoner

I think Casey's been under rated for years but it's not unusual in sports (especially one dominated by established players) that new blood have to prove their mettle.

But with this title, he's done it now. No one can doubt that he's not "as good" as VR, and many of us now even think, "Wow... he might be even better"... ;). And we/neigh sayers are just beginning to realise that:

1) DUCATI: He "won because he was on the best bike" is invalid because VR is proving (to his disgust) that it was all CS.

2) HONDA: "He won because he's on the best bike, quick shift trans etc" is also invalid because the HONDA is certainly good but probably not as good as they say because:
a) Had CS not won, it would have been a YAMAHA on the top step and still the bike considered "Not as fast as, but the bike to beat" (like other years).
b) Had he been on another bike, HONDA would have had another average year finishing 2nd behind YAMAHA (Lorenzo), or 3rd behind Lorenzio AND CS on whatever (SUZUKI? ;).
c) As a HONDA benchmark, excluding CS's performance, their 3rd and 4th was similar to their performance in previous years....

Credit where credits due. as Lance Armstrong put it, "It's not about the bike...."

Ain't it a great sport! (come on April...)

Total votes: 111

ditto that

Hope David does not mind the link to the picture.
http://cyclenews.coverleaf.com/cyclenews/20111213#pg9
Now the front is going that way and the back is going the other way and you can see where Stoner is looking, he is going to go somewhere else.

We don't get to see much of this because during the telecasts they focus on the race for 8th place. I think I speak for at least some of us, in saying that, we the people, would like to see the odd slo-mo of this sort of thing, so David next time you are talking to the powers that be could you kindly pass along the request on our behalf.

Total votes: 83

Doesn't sound like he liked

Doesn't sound like he liked Paul Butler too much.

Total votes: 81

Very Interesting Interview

That was a great read - thanks!

Total votes: 84

Asking Casey how he goes so

Asking Casey how he goes so fast is like asking Michangleo how he painted the ceiling! Casey is attire artist & 'FEEL' is everything & can't be explained to mere mortals! !!

Total votes: 82

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