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Toby Moody

Shedding some light on Stoner's crashes
Casey Stoner has endured a miserable start to the season and, with two falls in three races, he's down in 14th in the standings. Toby Moody sheds some light on the Australian's problems

There is a bet that the Ohlins suspension guys have in their truck to guess the top five finishers in the MotoGP race. I went in on Sunday morning to chalk up my favoured riders' names only to be told that the rules had changed since Jerez in that you can nominate your riders after the morning warm-up. I narrowly missed out on winning it in Jerez, having got the podium picked together with fifth and sixth, so I had a spring in my step as I climbed the steps into their mobile workshop.

The difference is at Le Mans I saved my €5 outlay first thing in the morning with the new rules so made a mental note to return in the short window after the warm-up, but before the 125cc race. The trouble is I never made it back to the black and gold Swedish registered truck, but that's probably just as well as I saved my €5 from being lost into someone else's pocket forever.

Casey Stoner retires from the French GP
Casey Stoner retires from the French GP © LAT

Jorge Lorenzo from Valentino Rossi was probably a prediction most had. But then Andrea Dovizioso from Nicky Hayden from Dani Pedrosa in fifth is most likely the wrong way around most people had the Repsol Hondas.

But the killer is that Casey Stoner didn't get to the finish at all. He fell off for the second time in three races. Hardly the stuff of a world champion who dominated the 2007 season.

So what is going on in Stoner's head and why is he falling off?

The Aussie fell off in Qatar en route to a sure fine win; he struggled in Jerez, as per normal for him there, to get fifth, while at Le Mans he soon bridged the gap to Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, who were at the sharp end, only for him to go gravelwards on a maximum lean corner. Again. He intimated afterwards that he could have won and I believe him.

So what is going wrong? Might it be the sure fire negotiations that are going on in the background after his dad and manager, Colin, visited Jerez? Maybe there is a deal done already but no one, less for the two Stoners and three people at HRC, might know that at the moment. But that is not the issue for what is going on out there on the race track once the visor is snapped shut.

To be fair to Casey, he's not riding in any manner different from when he dominated in 2007 and won a further ten races over in the past two seasons. Stoner is not just about to jack it all in and run away either, even though he had his head in his hands and cried (proof once more that he knew it was going to be second or even a win at Le Mans).

He's living in Switzerland in a nice place, and he wants to win, win, win when at the track. Remember that racers are wired up differently to the rest of us, and winning at nearly all costs is a priority in life all day, every day. It eats them up if they don't win, and those reading this who have competeted in anything in life will know how enveloping it can all be.

But what if the 2011 dealings are really bothering the Aussie? Maybe he really wants to go to Honda and leave Ducati? What he may well have is the same thing that ate Rossi, in that the world thought that the Honda 990cc V5 was the best bike in the world (and it was), hence the move to Yamaha to prove that it was in fact he who was the difference and not the bike doing the winning for him.

Casey Stoner
Casey Stoner © LAT

Throughout 2007, the Ducati was streets ahead of the rest, so Stoner took advantage of that because it worked for him. That bike wasn't another 'Bologna-built Italian Honda 990cc V5 clone that all could win on' because his team-mate Loris Capirossi couldn't get near Casey all year. The planets aligned for Stoner so he took the wins, the points and the title. And only the autumn before, he was Ducati's fourth choice of rider behind Sete Gibernau (wanted too much), Nicky Hayden (stayed at Honda), and Marco Melandri (had his option taken up by Gresini).

Now as that 2007 season fades away into the depths, things have changed. A lot of things. Other riders have arrived and won races, while the style of bike you are riding has changed too. Sure, the 2010 Ducati is a different beast than the screaming banshee that the GP7 was, but Casey was given the option of either engine for this year: the screamer or the more torquey version made for all other Ducati riders. He chose the big banger that the others have for 2010, meaning the screamer was left back in Bologna.

But what has the engine got to do with falling off twice in three races and languising in 13th position in the championship?


It just seems that the front end of the GP10 has something wrong, and that caused Stoner's offs, plus Nicky Hayden having a monster crash in Jerez practice at over 120mph. He still has the near black scabs on his left elbow.

Casey said after Le Mans that it is a corner where you don't put much pressure on the front through that long right hander, but the bike is at maximum lean. It would be easy to point fingers at the Bridgestone tyres, but the other riders seem to be OK. Or is it that the 2010 Bridgestones don't suit the Ducati when it's on a full tank of fuel?

Ducati will be looking hard to avenge the demons so they can win the Italian Grand Prix just as they did last year, while for Stoner he'll just have to keep cool and stay close with the team for whom he's got those 20 MotoGP victories.

The next one is not far away Casey, but hopefully not too far so I can win the Ohlins sweepstake.

  FEATURES FROM MAY 20, 2010 - MAY 26, 2010
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