In the second part of an exclusive interview, Australian Repsol Honda MotoGP rider, Casey Stoner, talks to Peter Clifford about his fellow riders, including Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and Mick Doohan.
Before Casey Stoner's arrival on the scene, Mick Doohan was the biggest Australian name in racing but they have yet to talk much about their shared experiences. “You know Mick has done the thing that I will probably do when I quit racing, he has gone home and enjoyed time with his family and separated his life from there. He doesn't get to a lot of races now and when he was at the races I wasn't riding for Honda, so it was something difficult, he was with a competitors team up until now.”
For the time being Stoner obviously still doesn't see himself as an equal of the five times world champion. “Mick has been the person that I've respected the most in all my racing career, he's my idol, he's the person that I've wanted to become like and even now there's a slight proud feeling to be with Repsol Honda. Under the same brand that he rode for. To finally talk to him in these colours will be a different feeling again.”
'Mick has been the person that I've respected the most in all my racing career'
On the other hand Casey has plenty of friends in the paddock he does chat with. “Myself and Ben (Spies) get along pretty well, Chris Vermeulen, when he was here was a lot of fun. I honestly get along well with Dani [Pedrosa] and Dovi [Andrea Dovizioso], I think that they are great guys and I have got along with them and respected them for a long time.
"Colin Edwards is a great guy, there are a lot of nice people in this paddock and even Jorge [Lorenzo], over the last three or four years I've gained a lot of respect for and I'm very impressed with what he has done and how he has handled himself in the past seasons. So there's a lot of people in the paddock you get along with, mechanics you've worked with in the past, some riders find it tough though to have a personal relationship when they have got to go out and race you on race day so for some riders it's a little bit difficult.”
Without saying it there is obviously one name missed out of the list that Casey is friendly with and that is arch rival Valentino Rossi, the man that Stoner beat so dramatically when he won the MotoGP World Championship in 2007 when he stepped onto the Ducati for the first time.
Casey Stoner facts
- In 2001 Casey raced in both the English and Spanish championships in the same year. He finished second in both championships despite missing several races due to fixture clashes
- In 2004, an 18-year-old Stoner on a 125cc bike achieved KTM's first win in a GP class
- Casey secured Ducati’s first MotoGP World Championship in 2007, becoming the first rider in more than three decades to win the MotoGP title on a European-made bike
This year Rossi has taken over the Ducati and is nowhere close to Stoner and the Honda. Is this a surprise?
“To be honest, yes, the bike that we had last year (Ducati) we struggled with in the first part of the season for sure, but at the end of the season the bike was capable of winning the last half dozen races so, we made a couple of mistakes in those and a wrong tyre choice but in general we were there with speed so that this year I am very surprised. I know that Valentino had a shoulder operation and had some problems with that but up to this point in the season it should be getting better and there should not be too much issues with his health right now.”
“For me, Valentino has definitely got the talent to still be winning races and I believe that on the Yamaha he still would be pushing for wins so it's definitely surprising that he's struggled this much so far.”
“I think that Valentino has had some injuries before, I don't think anything near as big as he's got now, he's basically damaged his rotator cuff ligament and I had that in the end of '07, I had that when I was ten years old and had to have an operation in the beginning of 2006 for that. I did the same thing last year, I did an 'ac' joint at the beginning of last season and had to have cortisone shots in that just to get the strength but these things... myself, Jorge, Dani, we've all had a lot of injuries and I think that Valentino has been lucky up 'till now. But that's not saying that we are any tougher than he is, it's just saying we have had more injuries.”
'For me, Valentino has definitely got the talent to still be winning races'
Rossi v Stoner has been a major feature of racing since Casey's World Championship win so perhaps beating the Italian gives him special satisfaction?
“No absolutely none, to me my strongest competitor at the moment is Jorge, it probably was Dani up until his injury. Those are the guys who were being by far the toughest to beat week in and week out so when you are able to beat them them and they are the next fastest guys on that day or that weekend then that is the most satisfaction you can have. This is a very tough year and a very tough class and I think that weekend by weekend you normally see new arrivals and new people running at the front and it just depends who feels the best on race day but in general I think that the most satisfaction you can get is beating everyone. That is the best feeling you can have.”