Stoner Loses Ground in Italy, Critiques CRT

July 16, 2012
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 trails Jorge Lorenzo by 37 points after Mugello.
Casey Stoner admitted that he had trouble finding a good set-up on his RC213V at the Italian Grand Prix.

Casey Stoner’s hopes of walking away from MotoGP at the end of the season as world champion suffered another major blow in Mugello. The Australian ended a difficult weekend in a disappointing eighth position and with factory Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo romping to a fifth win, Stoner heads into the second half of the campaign trailing the Spaniard by a massive 37 points.

Stoner never got close to his brilliant best form in Italy and he was only running in fifth position when his bid to salvage a podium was ended by an off-track excursion on Lap 10. The 26-year-old lost 15 seconds plowing through the gravel trap and dropped back to 10th. Later the reigning champ admitted he simply couldn’t find a good set-up with his factory RC213V machine.

“All weekend Jorge has ridden fantastic and hasn’t put a foot wrong,” said Stoner. “I thought I could fight for the podium and I had the pace to go with Dani but in reality third position would have been a good result. We just couldn’t get the bike to work, even in the warm-up. For the race I still wasn’t happy and not feeling comfortable at all. It was disappointing end to a difficult weekend. I thought I might have been able to salvage something today but couldn’t.”

After crashing out of second on the last lap the previous weekend in Germany, the last thing Stoner needed was another disappointing result. But when he ran off the track right in front of a packed grandstand filled exclusively by Ducati fans, Stoner was seeing more vital championship points slip from his grasp.

Explaining what had caused him to run off he added: “I guess I had a little shake the exit before and went into the turn and had no brakes. I was squeezing them as hard as I could and had enough brake power to stop but as I got towards the outside area it was dusty and I closed the front. I backed off the brakes a little bit and then I couldn’t stop before the gravel trap. It wasted a lot of time. It was game over in terms of the race result from there.”

Casey Stoner finished a disappointing eighth at the Italian GP.
Stoner has had trouble with front and rear chatter all season, adding to the difficulty in keeping pace with Lorenzo.

Stoner’s recovery saw him accused of dangerous riding by San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista when a hard move at Turn 2 on Lap 17 saw heavy contact made. He managed to get back into eighth to score eight points but admitted he wasn’t overly concerned by the big gap to Lorenzo.

“I don’t like to think about championships until the end of the season. I go for race results and unfortunately here was disappointing and also last weekend. Our pace has been there to be fighting for the win in a lot of other races but things haven’t rolled our way sometimes and plus we have made our own mistakes. I’m not disappointed. I still think I have a chance to win a lot more races by the end of the year,” said Stoner.

Lorenzo’s emphatic win means he’s now won more than 50% of the races in 2012 but Stoner doesn’t believe the new YZR-M1 1000cc is a vastly superior machine to his RC213V. Honda’s failure to iron out chronic front and rear chatter with new softer compound Bridgestone tires has blunted Stoner’s challenge.

“The biggest disappointment with our bike is that we haven’t fixed any of the chatter problems and now we have this new front tire I just can’t find any confidence or feeling in the front,” said Stoner. “I can’t attack the corner entry like I used to be able to. I’m nervous under brakes and I’m not getting the best out of the bike and tires. This is the most disappointing thing that we haven’t been able to fix that. I could say the Yamaha is more competitive but I’d say that Jorge has been doing the job on it and he is making the difference.”

CRT Speed Too Slow, Says Stoner

Stoner has expressed concerns about the speed of the CRT machinery on fast tracks like Mugello after he tangled with Italian rookie Danilo Petrucci in practice earlier in the Italian GP weekend. Several riders have been critical of the speed differential between the factory prototypes and the CRT machines, which use highly tuned production-based engines like Honda’s CBR1000RR and BMW’s S1000RR.

On Friday it was Stoner’s turn to vent his frustration after superior speed of Stoner’s Repsol Honda prototype RC213V saw him catch Petrucci’s Came IodaRacing Project bike, which runs a moderately tuned Aprilia RSV4 motor in the afternoon practice. TV pictures showed the latter stages of the incident where Stoner appeared to swerve towards Petrucci on the fast run to the final corner. But the incident had started three corners earlier when Stoner accused Petrucci of cutting in front of him after the Australian had already made an overtake.

Casey Stoner in the pit at Mugello.
Stoner pulling into the pit early in the weekend at Mugello.

Commenting on the incident, Stoner would say: “I went up the inside of him and completely passed him and then he went back round the outside of me and destroyed my lap. He went straight back on the outside and nearly cut my front off. I wasn’t too happy. In a race it is fair enough but not in practice. It is practice and not a race so it is unnecessary. I was disappointed because I have been impressed with his results and his effort this year and then he goes and destroys a lap of mine when I’d already overtaken him. I was a little bit p****d off to be honest. When he comes out of one corner he stays in one gear and hits the limiter and then I nearly hit the back of him again.”

Stoner has also been critical of some aggressive riding in 2012 and during the recent Assen Moto3 race in Holland he tweeted about Sandro Cortese’s uncompromising approach when fighting with Red Bull KTM teammate Danny Kent and Spaniard Maverick Vinales for the victory.

But Stoner defended himself today and said: “I didn’t push him off the track. I just didn’t give him a lot of room and needed him to back off and give me my space. He didn’t do that three corners before.”

Stoner then said the problem in MotoGP is the CRT bikes are dangerously slower than the factory prototypes. Stoner’s RC213V 1000cc prototype was clocked at 207.65mph through the Mugello speed trap on Friday, while Petrucci’s bike was easily the slowest at just 188.02 mph.

The 26-year-old said: “The dangerous thing is the CRT bikes. You come up on them faster than a Moto2 bike and it is ridiculous. At least in Moto2 they have a bit of corner speed when they are coming out of the corners. You come up on that quick and there shouldn’t be both types of bike out on track. It would be like F1 racing with touring cars, they’d come up on them quite fast and it is not the greatest feeling. There is much too big of a gap between the prototypes and CRT and it is not fair on the guys in CRT. And it is not right there are two different championships and this is not the correct way to go.”