Silverstone MotoGP Insider: Honda

June 13, 2011
Scott Mathews
Contributing Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

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
Casey Stoner overcame difficult conditions at the start of the race in Great Britain to earn another victory on the RC212V.

Casey Stoner conquered driving rain and ice cold summer temperatures to romp to a commanding British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone yesterday. The Australian became the first Honda rider to win three successive premier class races since Valentino Rossi in 2003 with a dominant victory that saw him seize the lead in the 2011 MotoGP world championship. Stoner’s imperious wet weather  riding in appalling conditions and Jorge Lorenzo’s costly crash while the Spaniard was third moved the Repsol Honda rider 18-points clear at the top of the standings with a third of the season completed.
Stoner won by a margin of more than 15 seconds with Italian teammate Andrea Dovizioso in a distant second place.
“It was hard to run at the front but I think if I’d been behind somebody it would have been more difficult,” said Stoner. “I found that on the first lap because there was a lot of spray off Jorge and Andrea and I actually ended up getting some water on the inside of my visor. Once I did get to the front I thought my vision would clear but it didn’t get better. I started to panic a little bit because I couldn’t see anything or where the deeper puddles were. I could see where I needed to go on the track and I could just see my braking points, but everything else was really difficult. I didn’t really know how long it was going to take to clear so I stayed nice and steady and made sure I didn’t make any mistakes. Once my visor started to clear I felt a lot more comfortable and I could pull an advantage. Once I got a lead I just tried to manage it because it

Casey Stoner and Mick Doohan
Five-time MotoGP champion Mick Doohan (left): “For Casey just hopping on the Honda has been a relief after being on that Ducati, which is hit or miss.”

was so cold and my body wasn’t really working properly so I just tried to stay constant and concentrated, because it was so easy to make a mistake. It was a very tough race and the cold for me was the worst part. The rain continued to come down during the race and some of the puddles got deeper and I was aquaplaning more. If you tried to slow down and relax the tire temperature dropped, so you had to keep the pace reasonably high to get any feeling from the track. I’m happy with the way the race went and I’m happy to come out with the championship lead because that is awesome.”
Stoner played down the significance of his third straight win for Honda, with the Japanese factory easily enjoying its best run since Rossi dominated in the 990cc four-stroke era.
“I think winning three races in a row for myself is important,” Stoner said. “Honda has been capable of a lot in the past few seasons and maybe a bit of bad luck has come their way and made things difficult. But I feel very happy with the way the bike is working. These three races have been fantastic. I’d have preferred a dry race and the rain made me a bit more nervous, but to come away with three wins in a row is perfect.”
Had it not been for Rossi’s error in the rain-hit Spanish Grand Prix earlier in the season, Stoner’s advantage could have been even greater.

“We also have to look that it could have been a very big lead now if we hadn’t missed out on a definite podium in Jerez,” continued Stoner. “To be already back at the top of the championship so early while missing a race is fantastic.”

Casey Stoner  #27  and teammate Andrea Dovizioso  #4  took the top-two spots in Round 6 of the 2011 MotoGP Championship.
Stoner (#27): “I think winning three races in a row for myself is important. I feel very happy with the way the bike is working.”

Five-time MotoGP world champion, Mick Doohan, reckons the impressive 2011 factory Honda RC212V is making winning races for Stoner a much easier job than when he was at Ducati. Doohan, who enjoyed unrivalled domination of the MotoGP series between 1994 and 1998, said it was obvious that Stoner was finding it less of a mental and physical challenge to ride the Honda than it was to tame the brutal Ducati. Stoner has made a brilliant start to his HRC career and has already won four out of the opening six races, including three successive wins in Le MansCatalunya and Silverstone.
“For Casey just hopping on the Honda has been a relief after being on that Ducati, which is hit or miss,” said Doohan. “He spent a lot of time riding it over the top 99% of the time, and that’s why the mistakes were made. I think the year that he won the championship on it was the best it was and after that it was just hard to control. For Casey with the Honda it just feels so much easier. The Honda was pretty good last year, but they have made some improvements and Casey has grabbed it with both hands and been on the pace right from the start. Any of those Japanese bikes, especially Yamaha and Honda, will feel like a delight to ride after riding that Ducati, so he can probably push it beyond what the other guys are capable of and still feel comfortable compared to where he was on the Ducati. Riding that Honda on the edge to where other people think it is scary, well it probably feels plenty safe to Casey compared to what the Ducati was like.”

San Carlo Hondas Marco Simoncelli was 0.188 seconds off the pace of Stoner during Saturdays qualifying.
San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli has the pace but is having difficulties making it to the podium this season.

Meanwhile Marco Simoncelli blew another chance to break his MotoGP podium duck in Silverstone yesterday, the Italian succumbing to atrocious conditions while he was running in third place. The San Carlo Gresini Honda rider had just been promoted into third position after Jorge Lorenzo crashed out at the first corner, but he tumbled out at the same spot on Lap 11.
While Lorenzo highsided out of contention, Simoncelli was undone by an error on the brakes, his front end washing away without any warning as he hunted down fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso.
“I am trying to be positive because I am fast and I saw that I can do it again,” said Simoncelli. “But I am completely distraught because it seems every week we line up ready for a top race and something happens to deny me. I had already had a moment in that corner so I tried to be more careful, but the front closed and I found myself on the floor waving goodbye to the podium once again. I am gutted.”

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