Estoril GP Insider: Stoner Weighs In

May 4, 2011
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Casey Stoner - Sepang testing
Casey Stoner came to Dani Pedrosa’s rescue by backing his Repsol Honda teammate in regard to a newly proposed bike and rider weight minimum in MotoGP.

Casey Stoner has thrown his support behind Dani Pedrosa in the combined bike and rider weight debate currently raging in MotoGP. Pedrosa has strongly opposed plans to introduce a combined bike and rider minimum weight limit in MotoGP, with some of his premier class rivals believing the Spaniard has a significant advantage because of his diminutive size.
Pedrosa is over 20kg (44 pounds) lighter than San Carlo Gresini Honda Marco Simoncelli, who is one prominent name known to back the introduction of a bike/rider weight limit.

Valentino Rossi is also an advocate of a minimum weight limit while the Italian’s factory Ducati teammate Nicky Hayden has also come out in support of the proposals, which were first discussed in Jerez. But Aussie Stoner is backing Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa, who blasted the proposals.

Stoner said: “In my opinion this is an interesting subject and many people have a valid point but to be honest, I feel sorry for Dani in his situation. There are pros and cons for everything. In some situations Dani’s size is definitely not an advantage to him and the bigger guys have an advantage on the smaller guys. Now we have so much more horsepower than we did in the two-stroke era and nobody complained so much then.

Repsol Hondas Dani Pedrosa claimed second on the charts behind his teammate with a lap of 2:01.360.
Dani Pedrosa has long been a target for criticism in MotoGP due to his small stature.
Dani Pedrosa broke Lorenzos dominance at Estoril  taking the victory by a three-second margin.

“Some riders are complaining more now even though we have more horsepower and more trouble to find traction. I think this is the most important part. If you’re heavier you should have traction a little bit easier. I got the whole the new age rider criticism for years about traction control and they want to find excuses everywhere for different things and there are pros and cons to everything. Dani’s size he has lot of difficulties like change of direction and weight balances but at the same time they have disadvantages with their bigger size trying to get tucked in on the straight and maybe on exits. But their bikes are lot more stable than they are with us. There is always going to be discussions about this so they should just put up with it. It’s the way it is and if you’re already struggling for grip, how can you complain about grip?”

In the days before the Estoril race, which Stoner finished a respectable third, the Australian repeated his criticism of the conduct of the racing marshals in his much-hyped crash and collision with his rival Rossi. The Aussie was heavily critical of the way marshals behaved after he was wiped out by his factory Ducati rival, furious that he was not given more assistance to re-join the race and he said marshals in the first corner incident had shown favoritism to Rossi. It was announced at Estoril, however, that the action of marshals were deemed safe and appropriate after Race Direction reviewed video evidence of the controversial incident and also heard from Juan Alvarez, Director of the Jerez circuit.

A short statement from Race Direction said: “After reviewing various videos of the incident between Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner during the race of the Grand Prix of Spain on 3 April 2011 and hearing the explanation from Juan Alvarez, Director of the Circuito de Jerez, the Race Direction has decided that the behavior of the track marshals was safe and appropriate. The Race Direction recommends the current rules be reviewed by the Grand Prix Commission in order to study possible solutions that may results in better procedures.”

Hondas Casey Stoner snagged the top time on Day 1 ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. - Sepang
Casey Stoner: “I feel sorry for Dani in his situation. There are pros and cons for everything. In some situations Dani’s size is definitely not an advantage to him and the bigger guys have an advantage on the smaller guys.” 

Stoner said he didn’t blame Rossi for the incident on Lap 8 of an enthralling Jerez clash that was eventually won by reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo. The former Ducati star also said an exchange he had with Rossi in the Repsol Honda garage after the Jerez race was misinterpreted. When Rossi went to apologize for his blunder in the braking zone for turn one, Stoner was heard on TV saying ‘Obviously your ambition outweighed your talent.’

But Stoner added: “I don’t blame anybody. Somebody asked me yesterday if I was going to return the favor to Valentino but Valentino did this by accident, it was not on purpose. And a lot of people misinterpreted what I said. I said Valentino had run out of talent. He hasn’t run out he ran out, so this was in one point that he made a mistake and run out of the talent. All I need to do now is accumulate some points and get the championship on track and try and attack from there.”

That’s not to say the intense rivalry between Rossi and Stoner dissipated at Estoril – as it continued to simmer on and off the track in Portugal. On track for the first time since the controversial collision in Jerez, a renewal of their fierce rivalry showed no sign of easing. Stoner was riled in the Friday practice that Rossi was following him to try and improve his lap time.

Casey Stoner was one of three Honda riders to crash during Day 3. He was uninjured and rebounded quickly  however.
Tension continued between Rossi and Stoner after the Italian reportedly followed Stoner during practice to better his time.

At one stage, the 2007 world champion was seen gesturing Rossi towards him and the Repsol Honda rider explained: “It was like calling Valentino, who was always following me. To find the best lap he was always behind me. It’s like a dog always following you everywhere, so it was like c’mon (whistles), good boy. If he is struggling to do a lap time this is it. We had our problems during the session and we were focusing on this but I also saw he held up Toni Elias a lot to find his lap time, so I don’t think it is so correct.”

Rossi spent the majority of a lengthy media debrief with the Italian media talking about Stoner and he repeated his typically forthright opinions when he faced questions from the international press pack.

The 32-year-old said: “About today [Friday], I don’t think Casey likes me a lot. This is quite clear. First it was because I slowed down to catch my breath because I was quite tired and I wanted to make a last lap pushing. Stoner passed and I restarted to push. He was in front of me but I wasn’t close but this happens in every practice and every race, so if he doesn’t want anybody to follow him then he has to race alone.”

Rossi said he had seen Stoner’s gesture and he added: “I saw it yes but I expected this. When we are together he always exaggerates everything too much. If I have to make like this in all my career for people that follow me then I break my seat.”

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