Casey Stoner might have one hand on the 2011 MotoGP world title but a 13th consecutive podium in Japan yesterday did little to disguise the Australian’s disappointment at failing to win the Twin Ring Motegi clash. When Stoner hit the front from pole position on the opening lap, many expected the 25-year-old to streak away to record a ninth win of the season. But an uncharacteristic mistake on the brakes at the end of the back straight on the fifth lap saw Stoner plough into the gravel trap at high speed.
Stoner managed to keep his factory Honda RC212V machine upright but dropped down to seventh before he recovered superbly to keep his proud record of scoring a podium in each race he has finished in 2011. With Jorge Lorenzo in second, Stoner only surrendered four points in the title hunt and he can still clinch the title on home soil at Phillip Island if he scores ten or more points than his Spanish adversary.
The 2007 world champion said: “It could have been worse, but not a lot worse. Everything felt good all weekend and the bike has been fantastic and it was the same for the race. We got a gap quite easily, so we sort of wanted to manage that. Then I saw Andrea (Dovizioso) pull a few tenths back and I knew he was on the softer tire, so we thought we can go a little bit quicker here because I didn’t want to push too much in those early laps to struggle too much with the hard tire. Then I had the issue on the brakes and I couldn’t make the corner. I’m disappointed because in some ways we’re lucky we still ended up on the podium, but I feel we should have been fighting for that win and it’s disappointing.”
Casey Stoner: “I’m disappointed because in some ways we’re lucky we still ended up on the podium, but I feel we should have been fighting for that win and it’s disappointing.”
Asked what he thought had upset his bike in the braking zone when he ran off he added: “It’s not one bump, there’s a lot. But I hadn’t had any kind of reaction off the bike all weekend and as I came over there I had the slightest movement before the bigger bump, because there’s a few small ones before it and as the front came down it just shook. I have no idea why it did that but I’d gone over it a lot of different ways during the weekend. It was just a bit surprising that we had that problem during the race.”
Dovizioso’s 2012 Plans Still Unclear
Andrea Dovizioso is close to reaching a final decision on whether he will ride for LCR Honda next season or partner Cal Crutchlow in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad. The Italian says his decision on whether to continue his long association with Honda or move to rivals Yamaha would be taken before the end of this week.
The former 125GP world champion has spent his entire Grand Prix career with Honda and admitted after finishing fifth in an incident-packed Japanese round at the Twin Ring Motegi that leaving would be a big wrench.
He said: “It is difficult because my feeling with Honda now is the best compared to the last nine years because now I am fighting for the victory. It is hard but it depends on a lot of situations and right now I haven’t decided anything.”
Dovizioso said there was a big temptation to move to Herve Poncharal’s Tech 3 squad to try and build a relationship with a different manufacturer. The Italian would sign a one-year deal with Tech 3 with the hope of impressing in the inaugural 1000cc world championship to secure a move to Yamaha’s factory squad in 2013.
He said: “Sure I think about this. When you’re fast you have a lot of possibilities and if I am fast with Yamaha next year then sure I will have the chance to be in the factory team and this is the target of every rider.”
Dovizioso saw a great chance of claiming victory at the Twin Ring Motegi race ruined by a jump start. He led after a mistake by Casey Stoner but had to complete a pitlane ride through and he eventually finished fifth after failing to hold off compatriot Marco Simoncelli, who was also guilty of a jump start.
HRC Says No Rush for Marquez in MotoGP
Marc Marquez has been warned not to rush coming into MotoGP as speculation mounts the emerging Spanish star will ride a new Honda RC213V machine in 2012. The reigning 125GP world champion’s Repsol-backed Moto2 squad has asked HRC to reserve a bike in case he defeats Stefan Bradl to the 600cc four-stroke crown. Marquez trails the German by just six points after he won the recent Motorland Aragon race to claim a sixth victory in seven races.
Honda has confirmed it would supply a bike if Marquez’s squad had the budget to lease an RC213V.
But HRC boss Livio Suppo said: “It is a question of money. Sooner or later it will be too late to order a bike. We are getting very close to the deadline in which we can supply two bikes. There is a lot of speculation about it because Marquez is doing an unbelievable job but as far as I know everything is in place to have another year in Moto2. I don’t see why he should rush. He is doing a great job, he is still young and he has great talent and one more year in Moto2 shouldn’t be a big problem.”