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GP Week : Issue 155
Hayden had already turned them down. As we’ve seen, the choice was inspired. Stoner was unbeatable in 2007, taking 10 race wins and the first 800cc title, giving Rossi a good dust-up on several occasions. Valentino and the improved Yamaha took it back over the next two years while Stoner’s win rate continued to impress: six in 2008 and four in 2009, in spite of missing several mid-season races while doctors finally pinned down his serial and serious debilitation linked to lactose intolerance. Until that happened it was indeed ‘a mystery ailment’. Marlboro’s big cheese Maurizio Arrivabene was at first openly critical of his absence, while Ducati showed him scant sympathy and understanding. Casey added these to the list of the debit side of GP racing: they would weigh heavily in his decision to quit. Stoner’s 2010 season did everything to bring his crash-happy reputation back to the fore, though he did win three races at year’s end. Being Casey, the common trend was to blame the rider not the bike. It was only when Rossi got aboard that everyone realised it was quite the other way around. It is the greatest source of satisfaction to Stoner that his illustrious rival has come nowhere near his Ducati results in spite of fevered efforts by the Italian racing factory. His move to Honda was confirmed early in the year. We know what happened next. Ten wins in 2011 and a truly assured second championship. He’s looking to have made a secure start to doing it again in 2011. And then never again. Some feel he has betrayed racing. Casey has a more Shakespearean outlook, though he might not realise it. He has already heeded Polonius’s parting advice to his son Laertes: “This above all: to thine own self be true.” There is another line, and perhaps you’d like to join in: “Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!” 35 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> FEATURE