I've not always been a fan of Stoners, my admiration has always been there just because he races motorcycles, but the full appreciation of his style and sheer speed is only, in the grand scheme of things, relatively recent. In his days as a Ducati rider I may have been guilty of having a soft spot for Valentino Rossi which, on occasion, clouded my judgement of Casey. The tide of change began at the Valencia post-season test in 2010 and, to be honest, the comments made in that Summer by Rossi and Jerry Burgess about him not trying and 'we can fix that bike in 80 seconds' probably let me see the nine time champion in a different light. The comments were unnecessary and disrespectful, regardless of who the rider was it was aimed at. Didn't it come back to bite them on the arse tho...
As I've said before, Casey Stoner has THE most exciting riding style I've ever witnessed, what he did on that Honda defied belief, he made a motorcycle make shapes it wasn't designed to do and made his achievements on the Ducati look all the more impressive. Although the racing in 2011 wasn't the most exciting, Stoner was imperious and it got to the point that I was just enjoying watching him race, it was that special. If it wasn't for Rossi's ambition out-weighing his talent at Jerez then he would undoubtedly have gone a full season appearing on the Podium in every race. I lost a little more respect for Valentino Rossi that day, apologising to Casey in front of the watching world but without removing his helmet, maybe afraid the fans would see through his insincerity...
Yes he moans. So do you. So do I. But we don't get jumped on every time we express an opinion, if something's not right he says it's not right. Why flower it up? It is what it is. The thing that strikes me most though is the irony of the patch on his leathers and his pit board as he crossed the line...'Gone Fishing'. As I tweeted earlier in the week, that is something Casey has done throughout his MotoGP career, and every time he's 'gone fishing' he's got a bite and with the growth of social media he gets thousands of bites every time he drops bait. And I love that.
So, thank you Casey. Thank you for leaving me, at times, lost for words with your style and speed. Thank you for helping the likes of Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Crutchlow etc raise their game. You will be missed.
As with the last installment of Straw Bales, @guyhanderson as again kindly penned a piece that is worthy of a read. I'll leave the last words to Guy...
“This website won't be updated during the 2011 Campaign.” *
There is more than one Casey it seems. One is a father and husband who likes nothing better than fishing and the outback. The other is, in the eyes of some, an arrogant whining Aussie who rides faster than anyone else.
MotoGP fans don’t get to see nice Mr Stoner except maybe at Philip Island when TV shows him with his family. Some MotoGP fans only chose to see the arrogant part of Stoner. But those of us who divest the emotion of favouritism get to see a blindingly fast exponent of bike racing. A guy who has made the unrideable Ducati Desmosedici win when no one else could. Stoner won the last six MGP races at Philip Island – 4 on a Ducati.
Until this year Stoner’s biggest competitor was Valentino Rossi. Comparing one aspect of Stoner to one aspect of Rossi is telling: Rossi has had at sometimes in his career absolute adoration of a bike he has ridden. Rossi looked lovingly at the Yamaha M1 of 2008, and has spoken with affection of other bikes he’s ridden. Ever heard any such nonsense from Stoner? Me neither. It’s as if he hates the bike and he’s in a 45 minute fight with it hanging on for his life. I’ve heard less contempt of Jimmy Saville than the way Stoner looks at his bike when he gets off at the end of a practice or qualifying session. Consequently Stoner has a reputation. A reputation that has been borne of beating Rossi. And beating Rossi is tantamount to being the insurrection in the eyes of the fan-bois. None of this is Stoner’s fault, but the negative press he receives may weigh (wears?) heavily on him. And this ends up being a self fulfilling prophesy; that is, Stoner is negative/whining/ungrateful/disrespectful/whatever whereas he says his job is to ride a bike faster than anyone else and win races. Which is what he does. So what’s your problem?
To some viewers beating Rossi is unthinkable, but to a rider it is probably the pinnacle of their career, although he would probably never admit that. Admitting that beating a rider is above winning a World Championship is flawed. It shows a flaw in your character of being a rider. And 95% of winning is psychological, so you don’t do it. You don’t admit anyone is better than you. Least of to yourself. Until you win the championship and are being gracious in victory (but never in defeat).
So Stoner carries these projections around with him; from being booed at Donington by fuckwits who are comparable to Jimmy Saville to being “difficult with the press’ and to this day I’m unsure if it bothers him or not.
Well not anymore. Valencia 2012 was the last time you will see Casey Stoner on a motorbike in a race. Or so he says. I hope he changes his mind, but at the same time I suspect he won’t. He has that dogmatic determination of a winner that comes across as arrogant, but is the only way they know.
You can look back and read the cold statistics that say Stoner won 2 championships 4 years apart in 2007 and 2011. Neatly they were on different machines; Ducati and Honda. 2007 was Stoner’s second year in MGP and his first on the new 800 Ducati Desmosedici. And from then on he risked the ire of many; from Rossi’s fans for not showing enough respect through to journalists who don’t understand his quite ways, of his dislike for everything to do with racing that isn’t riding. And this has probably been the biggest negative side of Stoner; his unease at being involved in anything other than racing.
Stoner doesn’t do PR bullshit; he doesn’t enjoy corporate crap or pandering to sponsors. This is Stoner’s flaw. Or one of his flaws. He is also unspeakably hard on himself and his team. In fact someone from his team this weekend took him to one side and told him that there is only so much a bike can be made to do – there are indeed limits, though to Stoner they are obstacles he wants to overcome.
But Stoner is tired of racing. Contrast that to his earlier years – in one weekend he won 32 out of 35 races he rode in.
There is another Casey too. Casey Jones, steamin and a rollin. *winky smiley face ;-)
* Want an illustration of what Stoner thinks of all the media stuff he has to do? This quote is from http://www.caseystoner.com.au/home.php - it hasn’t been touched for over a year.
As always, thanks for reading.