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GP Week : Issue 149
Casey Stoner underwent medical checks after the Qatar GP, with the hope that he can avoid the need for surgery before the end of the season. The defending World Champion had a promising start to the season set back when the painful and debilitating condition struck early in the race. Even so he managed to gain a lead of two seconds, until the pain became so unbearable that he was forced to cede to race winner Jorge Lorenzo and his Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa. Stoner revealed that it was not the first time he had suffered from the condition, known as compartment syndrome, in which the muscles become agonisingly swollen and radically weaker. But it was the first time for more than a full year. “It’s not completely new, but the only other time was in 2010 when I was still at Ducati ... and then it went away,” he said. Some believe that the faster and heaver 1000cc bikes caused extra strain, but the Australian was not so sure. “You have to brake for longer and you can feel the extra torque,” he said. You also had to use more bodyweight to keep the front wheel down, but the extra weight also made the bikes more stable. “In the end it’s both easier and harder to ride than the 800,” he told pressmen. “I’m sorry mate, I didn’t see you” is a cliché in motorcycling: the all-too frequent explanation for a collision. The phrase gained piquancy after Qatar with accusations that Moto2 winner Marc Marquez’s well- publicised vision problems contributed to his crucial last-lap tangle with long-time race leader Thomas Luthi Marquez had pulled alongside but not fully ahead of Luthi on the straight when he swerved across his front wheel, causing Luthi to run off the track and drop to fifth. Both riders were carpeted by race direction after the race: Marquez for “borderline” tactics and Luthi for aiming a hefty whack at his rival on the slow-down lap. Race director Mike Webb confirmed to GPWeek: “It wasn’t enough to have an immediate penalty, it was like: ‘Hey guys, think very seriously about what you do in the future’.” Marquez lost the Moto2 title last year after missing the last two races with double vision problems following a crash. They persisted through the winter, and in spite of corrective surgery in January he missed all but the final pre-season test while still recovering. At Qatar, however, the question of vision did not arise. “It’s a possibility, but not one that leapt to my mind immediately,” said Webb. Former triple champion Wayne Rainey is one who raised the vision question in the following week. “Watching those last laps,” he told GPWEEK, “I saw Marquez do that twice, and I wondered: is there a problem with his peripheral vision? There’s an etiquette among racers: no matter how much you dislike the guy you’re not going to deliberately put yourself in jeopardy at the end of a long straightaway. “[John] Kocinski had the same problem. There was times I’d come up on him, and took him by surprise. I always prided myself to work on my eyesight. I was always trying to train my eyes for better peripheral vision. You can hear guys, but you want to be able to see them as well.” Webb confirmed that Marquez had been medically examined with special reference to his vision before being able to rejoin the class at tests, and medical director Michele Macchiagodena added: “I did not check him myself, but at Qatar the chief medical officer did so and reported to me. “But it is a very correct question,” continued Macchiagodena, who took over the role from his father during last year. “When I spoke to Marquez at Qatar he told me that he had been without vision problems for a couple of months. But you are right. I will look at the situation and speak with him again in Jerez.” STONER ARM PUMP “It's happened before” MARQUEZ TO HAVE FRESH EYE CHECK AFTER QATAR CLASH “I shall investigate” – Medical Director Lower fuel consumption Increased power output Less engine wear Improved cold-start ability EXCLUSIVE 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS MOTOGP >>> NEWS