What makes Casey Stoner so violently fast ?
What the competition is talking about him
"He will go down in the history books as one of the toughest and fastest riders there has ever been"
When a two stroke 500cc World Champion for 5 years in a row has this to say about a rider, the world has every reason to pay strong heed to it. But what if Mick Doohan had not said the above line ? Would it have made Casey Stoner any less of a rider ? Can the achievements of Casey Stoner be belittled at all ? Is Casey Stoner the fastest motorcycle racer the world has ever seen until now? What makes Casey Stoner so violently fast TODAY ?
The magnitude of a man can verily be derived by what others have had to say about him and it's not just Mick Doohan talking about Casey Stoner like he were his biggest fan in the world. Casey may not be selling as many Caps and T-shirts as some of his (perhaps now fluorescent green with envy) competitors, but if you have seen Casey riding, a Cap or a T Shirt will be the least of your desires.
Valentino Rossi has won nine world titles in all - seven in the top class and one each at 125cc and 250cc level, he has clinically decimated opponents on and off track and has had a mental edge over just about every big rival of his. If this man at the top is disturbed, the world of motorcycling has every reason to be disturbed too. And that's exactly what is happening. While competitors are running around in circles to find the magic wand that would transform their timesheets, Casey Stoner is going about his normal day job of being blisteringly fast, come rain or shine. The world is slowly recognizing Stoner for what he is as a rider and big names have by now come out big way in support of his talent.
Yamaha boss, Wilco Zeelenberg had stated that "Honda RC212V was almost no different with Honda in 2010, but the skills of Stoner turned it into a world beater. Stoner not only closed the doors on Yamaha and Ducati, but he also was consistently quicker than his team-mate Dani Pedrosa. Stoner had reinvigorated the factory Honda outfit..the big change was that Casey on the Honda took it to another level "
''I can't say anything new that I have not said about him'', quipped Jorge Lorenzo, 2010 World Champion who lost his title to Casey Stoner in 2011. ''He is very talented and he can ride the bike to the limit in every situation."
Honda chief Livio Suppo also praised Stoner when he won 10 times and was off the podium only once in 17 races. "From the very first time he joined HRC (Honda Racing) he was very fast. I think this gave the engineers a lot of motivation and also a big drive inside the company." Suppo said. "He did a super job, not making one mistake, which is unbelievable"
In the year 2007, Qatar, Casey Stoner won his first ever MotoGP race on a Ducati and was fast straight out of the box and continued to ride the rest of the year like a bat out of hell and went on to win 10 races in that momentous year – nine more than his highly-regarded teammate Loris Capirossi, clinching the title at the end of year 2007. Ducati had won their first ever MotoGP trophy and Stoner had made his winning ways clear to all. And although year 2010 was plagued with a lot of crashes for Stoner, he had won 3 races and stood on the podium 9 times in total. In year 2011 Stoner became impossible to defeat. But things had changed by now. 2011 saw Stoner quitting Ducati and was to ride for Repsol Honda. Valentino had quit Yamaha and the world's greatest rider was now to ride Stoners Ducati. Since Valentino Rossi was riding the same bike(the GP10) that Stoner had achieved 9 podiums on, it became impossible to discuss Stoner without discussing Rossi and vice versa. Stoner aboard the new Honda started belting lap records while Valentino Rossi rode the Ducati to 15th on the timing sheets. Rossi simply said that the “Ducati should be ridden differently, in a more dirty sort of way”. The world hoped and almost knew that Rossi could ride it that way.
A new era had begun. While many fellow riders spoke about Stoners strange ways and his throttle skills ( Nicky Hayden spoke of Stoner being exceedingly good with his throttle in the last 8 to 10% of the corner exit), Stoners biggest and the most recent rival, now married to Ducati, remained silent about Casey Stoner. The last that one had heard coming out of the Rossi-Burgess camp was a statement that has come to haunt Rossi now. While Rossi had said that Stoner wasn't winning on the Ducati cause he wasn't pushing enough, Burgess had topped it all up by claiming that the front end issue that the Ducati was plagued with could be fixed in 2 days and 2 hours. The fact that Casey could tame the Ducati like no other before handing it over to Rossi made matters even worse for Valentino. Never had anyone made Rossi look so ordinary before. It was Casey who made the Ducati go like it did..a proposition the world didn't want buy, until NOW !
Mick Doohan's take on Casey Stoner
So let's come back to the question we started out with. What makes Casey Stoner so fast ? Why is it that he can set a lap record straight out of the pits and doesn't have to build the speed up lap by lap like every other racer does it out there ? Why could Stoner ride the Ducati like he could when the most famous racer of all times and 7 times World Champion Valentino Rossi cannot ? In fact Rossi has been to the podium only once in 2011 after finishing third behind Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso in France. Doohan says it’s further evidence of Stoner’s supremacy rather than Rossi’s decline. “Casey seemed to be, over the last few years, the only guy who could consistently pull results on that Ducati; it was night and day between him and his teammate and I think that confirms his dominance,” he says. “Even though he hasn’t won the Championship the last few years, it’s been obvious just how strong a rider, he is. I think towards the end of his time at Ducati he was riding that thing beyond what it was capable of: he was in no man’s land a lot, which inherently leads to mistakes – which in bike racing is crashing! Confidence has a lot to do with it in any sport but especially on two wheels, where believing that you can get away with it is half the battle! You see some of these guys fall off and it’s almost a give-up point, whereas somebody like Stoner will ride through it and believe that he’s not going to crash. It takes a real big incident for him to actually crash the bike. It’s all got to do with managing what happens when something goes wrong, and dealing with it correctly: a good rider can get away with it whereas a lesser rider panics a bit more and you end up on your ears! Casey’s been able to ride it a bit better, and also there’s his desire to be the World Champion"
So that's Mick Doohans story of what makes Stoner so fast. But blessed are us all MotoGP fans for Casey Stoner has indeed come out answering this question himself. What makes Stoner bombard the laptimes first lap onwards ?
Casey Stoner talks about himself
"I don't know where it comes from. When I go out there, whether I know the track or I don't, my first laps become more natural. I ride the track naturally. You'll never be as fast riding a track naturally, but it's how I just start out. Then, once I feel that I've got my pace up a little bit, that's when we start working on set up, we start finding braking points, entry lines, things like that. So the first part I suppose is just not worrying or thinking about it too much. It's just going out there, finding your pace, finding your rhythm, then you can start working on it. There is no point in working on set up when you're three seconds off the pace. So you may as well get there first, unless there is something really badly wrong with the bike."
What does Casey mean when he says he rides them first few laps naturally ? Casey goes on..
"When you're not riding naturally, you're riding more clinically. You start to think about what the bike's doing; you think about your braking point, how many gears you're going back. As you go into a corner, you're thinking about what the bike is doing, where it's tucking, what sort of position the bike is in. Whether you need a little bit more confidence in the front; what it's doing in what part of the corner; when you're getting on the gas, how much it's turning; if it's not turning, how much it's wheeling...
All these different things you got to go through in your head to try and get the best setup that you can. And those things, I can leave them out of my head when I'm riding the first laps. I'm just worrying about the track. I'm looking at patches, I'm looking at how far they've painted that curve out, I'm looking if they have made a new line to that track at all. If they have put a new bit of tarmac on, something like that.
It's just that I am able to go out there, roll through the corners a little bit faster, trust the tires and trust my body a little bit more maybe than the others. And so if there is any slipping or sliding, I'll feel it immediately anyway and be able to counteract it."
Everybody will have their own opinion to why Casey Stoner is so fast. Ben Spies comments that when he follows Lorenzo and Rossi, he can see and understand what they are doing and feels he can try and replicate it to help him with his style/riding to go faster, yet when he follows Casey he has no idea what he is doing or how! While most theories are an attempt at decoding him as a rider, one thing is certain; the world doesn't really know why Casey Stoner is so fast and perhaps even Casey himself doesn't really understand what the worlds going on about when discussing his riding.
PTR's take on Casey Stoner
What we at PTR think is this. When it comes to "making a fist with what you've got", Stoner is simply the best. And if you give him a good machine he will make a mockery of speed itself. It must be difficult for these riders to convey what they learned and honed over a lifetime. Casey's had a throttle in his hand more often than not for more than 80% of the time he's had a pulse. Can't be easy to articulate what has become an innate sense to those who don't share it as such. Might be much like if one could have asked Michelangelo how he uses a brush and paint to create his images. We think Casey's intuitive understanding of speed is by far his strongest attribute. He showed that he had powers of intuition during the 2007 season when he decoded both the Bridgestone tires and cantankerous GP7, better than anyone else in the field. It is this skill that allowed him to win on the loose as hell Ducati when no one else could trust their careers to the Italian Manufacturer. We are not surprised to hear that he conceptualizes speed in his mind without much emphasis on data logging b/c it is consistent with the way he rides and his 3-lap-troubleshooting-technique. Whether you like him or not, Casey's riding style is undisputedly the most exciting to watch! Over the last 5 years he has more wins and more pole positions and more lap records than every other rider including Rossi. But the question we are asking here is not if he is faster than Rossi ? We are to merely contemplate on why Casey Stoner is so fast. MotoGP contains the best pavement motorcycle racers in the world; ALL of them are amazing. Who is the 'best'? Who really knows? The answer is complex. The bikes are not equal, the rider's ages are not equal, the rider's state of health is not equal, etc. ? We would just love to see one race between Casey, Lorenzo, and Valentino all on the exact same motorcycle; who would win??? The best rider of course..and the beauty of motorcycle racing is such that we shall never find out who that is. Be afraid though..be very afraid for Casey has gone out and declared "I'm still not the rider I want to be, I think I can be a lot better."
Quite amazing !
Thursday, 26 April 2012 06:52
This is something that has overwhelmed me... Amazing put into words. I even remember Graziano said that they were unable to understand why is Stoner so fast, in the documentary Fastest.
Well, I must say stoner's got extra balls.... LOL ;)
Thursday, 15 March 2012 08:51
What a read! Brilliant stuff.. :)