Three and a half years have passed since Casey Stoner stepped into the MotoGP paddock, “I think it was Mugello in 2018 the last time I was here” he said. Yesterday he arrived in Portimao and the first stop was in the Ducati garage to greet his former team manager Christian Gabarrini. “It was my whole world for many years – he said – A lot of people, you know, in this paddock are family and friends, we missed everyone to be honest.”
The Aussie was smiling and relaxed but admitted he had recently gone through a rough patch with serious health issues.
“Since I finished my test role with Ducati I have had my shoulder reconstruction which was fantastic. I struggled tremendously with my health and got to the point where I couldn’t get up from the couch for five months. Mentally, I was struggling, physically massively, so for the last three or four years I’ve been trying to deal with it.
“I am never more than 60% of my usual self, I have learned to conserve my energy”
How are you doing now
“I tried to learn how to save energy throughout the day, I started to feel better in December / January and thought I could handle it now. Then I hit March / April and went back. Sometimes I’m extremely exhausted and can’t explain it, and other days I feel better. I am never more than 60% of my usual self. I had to learn to walk everywhere, which I hate, I used to jog everywhere ”.
Do you miss being out of shape?
“I haven’t been able to be competitive in anything. I miss any rivalry with others because for the past 4 years my competition has been me. I started mountain biking, I reached a good level and I wanted to be competitive and serious but unfortunately things got more difficult ”.
A physical problem limits you, as happens in Marquez, even if your situations are very different. What is the influence of injuries on a runner?
“Injuries definitely affect you, it’s part of the race. Something I felt I was good at and Marc is good at is remembering you. We all make mistakes, but learning from them is the most important thing. I was never really scared, I never wanted to crash. For Marc it’s different, he’s coming out of a big injury, very long with a lot of complications, it will wreak havoc and time for him to recover mentally and physically. When I had my ankle surgery and wasn’t allowed to walk for a few months, so with his arm and shoulder, it will take so long to build up. There is no way to replicate riding a MotoGP bike as much as you can practice. Then, of course, there is the fear that it will happen again. It is impossible to know what Marc is going through, but it is certainly difficult for him.
“Marquez was good at covering Honda’s problems with his talent”
The Honda does not appear to be in good condition either.
“With Marc, everyone knows he’s incredibly talented, he had unparalleled reaction times, which is why he could always catch up with him so quickly after losing the front. One mistake he and his team might have made in the early years could be that he was really good on the brakes, spinning this bike was only good on the brakes. Even when I was testing with Honda the emphasis was heavily on braking and brake stability, Marc was good at covering up issues. “
Is Ducati about to win a world championship again?
“For a long time now, they’ve been about to get the full package and get the job done. But when you’ve got Yamaha producing a great package year after year, you’ve got Marquez who when you know he’s fit and healthy, on the Honda. They are very hard to beat. So you need this whole package to work together. And that can sometimes be difficult. I think you know, if everything goes their way, yeah, they can win a championship. “
“I would like to try the Yamaha, my biggest competition”
If you could ride a MotoGP motorcycle again, which one would you choose?
“Probably the Yamaha, because it was my biggest competition, the hardest bike to beat. It would be interesting to know, from what I saw in the race, what I really felt, so it would be interesting to understand if it was possible to drive it differently from my competitors ”.
Do you not miss the MotoGP motorcycle at all?
“I enjoyed practice and qualifying, especially at the weekend. Certainly not practice. But practice and qualifying was always fun when it all came together. And then you have to go as fast as you can for a round or two. When you got it right, I felt a lot more fun than winning a race. Because in the race you never went as hard as you could, you always had to deal with the tires, the fuel … you still deal with the situation. “
“It was fantastic to race against Valentino, I learned a lot from him”
Have you ever managed to catch up with your old rival Valentino?
“I haven’t caught up with him yet this weekend. If Valentino always loved his run, then, you know, there’s no reason not to run. I wouldn’t be able to do it myself. Because you know, for me the race was a winner. I always accepted the fact that I couldn’t win sometimes, but at the same time the reason I got up in the morning to run was to win. And so I would be really struggling not to run competitively in front, and I missed Valentino. I think the last, you know, two, three years, I would have loved to see him fight with the guys. I think the race could have been amazing with that.
How do you remember your rivalry with him?
“You know Valentino and I had some amazing battles, we had a fantastic rivalry. Some good and bad, some things went my way and some didn’t really. But there was. one thing that you know was fantastic racing Valentino, and that’s what I learned from him, whether on track or off track with his media. He was still very shrewd, and very smart, very cunning. So I learned a lot of things. I am very happy for him now, with the news of his baby girl this is the next chapter of his life, I am sure he will enjoy it.
“I’m curious to see what Bezzecchi will do in MotoGP”
Looking at the young riders, who impresses you?
“There are a lot of talents coming, no one can ignore Acosta, it’s just amazing what he did this year, it’s impressive to see someone with their maturity at their age, garcia was also good to watch. Fernandez and Remy did a fantastic job, and Bezzecchi I think he maybe has something a little more that I haven’t seen this year. I would like to see what he can do in MotoGP ”.
Young riders have been criticized for their behavior on the track, what do you think?
“We need more clarity, final decisions and tougher penalties. In my opinion, there is no more runway edge and it continues, it’s just green paint. For me, the worst thing that happens to me in the race is that there is no second lap. People are no longer afraid because there is no edge of the runway. Everyone must learn to have more respect for each other ”.
And what about the technical regulations?
“I think they’re pushing the development price through the roof, but we’re basically turning it into Formula 1. I’d like to see some parts go away, also electronically, a big cut. I want to see riders slip, mistakes, people struggling for grip. It wouldn’t take much, overtaking would actually improve because it wouldn’t just be under the brakes. “
You were the last rider to win the MotoGP championship with two different motorcycles, why is it so difficult for so many riders to change motorcycles?
“I’m not inside that person or their mind, in their system of handling things. For me, I knew until the last half of a second how to go fast on almost any bike. with relative ease. I was happier to adapt, a lot of riders say the bike doesn’t suit me or my style. All bikes have good points, it’s all about tradeoffs on the setup and how it wants to be ridden. For me the most important thing was that I wasn’t proud of the fact that I wanted everything to work for me ”.