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GP Week : Issue 168
“FOR ME SOMETIMES HE DOES SOMETHING ON THE TRACK, ESPECIALLY IN THE RACE, THAT MEANS YOU MUST BE A GENIUS. YOU MUST HAVE SOMETHING MORE THAN THE OTHERS TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS, TO BE HONEST..." The 'epic' battle at Laguna Seca in 2011 saw Stoner win the race GABBARINI “And (he likes) a balanced bike, not too much on the front, not too much on the rear.” What Stoner likes as a standard set-up is “difficult to say, because we don’t have a benchmark, another bike to make a comparison, but nothing so particular. He’s really strong on the brakes, so he needs a quite strong front spring, sure. And he is also quite strong on the brake system, but we cannot do more than this because it’s the biggest (front disk).” Stoner also uses the rear brake more than most riders. What Stoner does like is steering with the rear tyre, which is why the increase in engine size to 1000cc favours him. “More torque on the bottom means that you can make the bike slide more easily,” Gabbarini said. “You can control it a little better, but just for this characteristic of Casey for me, he was, how to say? Maybe one step more than the others, especially in 800. Because 800, our engine in particular was quite aggressive. So you need to be very careful and very sensitive to get on the throttle when you are leaned over. And Casey on this was really, really good.” What Gabbarini also admires about Stoner is his work ethic. As soon as the track’s open he’s ready to go and on the gas. His early laps are so fast and consistent they’re often unsettling to the other riders. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, usually yes. This is his style,” Gabbarini said. “He didn’t waste, I think, one second of his time cruising around here. It’s also good for us, because you know every millimeter you change the bike he’s trying to push 100%. He’s not just cruising or waiting on something.” Nor does he waste the team’s time making unnecessary changes. The Repsol Honda RC213V is a more highly developed motorcycle than the Ducatis he rode for four years, which means that he often makes very few changes over the course of a race weekend. “For me, it doesn’t matter,” Gabbarini said of whether Stoner makes changes. “I usually say, we are not trying to make the best bike possible, but the bike that the rider likes to ride. And so if he feels good with the bike, it’s OK. If he doesn’t feel good you can also change everything for him, no problem. Because he tries again and if it’s better, OK. If not we come back in another direction.” Stoner was the undisputed master of the 800cc era, winning 33 races, 33 poles, and bookending the era with titles in 2007 and 2011. And with the switch to 1000s Stoner has continued winning, four times before his season was interrupted by the crash in the Red Bull Indy GP. Dovi once said that Stoner was the fastest rider, but not the best racer. The distinction was somewhat lost on Gabbarini, who agreed “100 percent that he is the fastest rider. For me he’s also a genius during the race, because sometimes he changes. “If you, for example, think about Laguna Seca (2011). Everybody said, what happened? Because he was third and it looks like he’s in difficulty. And then in a few laps he overtakes two other riders,” Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, “and goes,” and wins an epic battle that many saw as the turning point in the 2011 championship. “For me sometimes he does something on the track, especially in the race, that means you must be a genius. You must have something more than the others to do something like this, to be honest. So for me, also during the race, also in general, he is really, really good.” 41 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> FEATURE