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GP Week : Issue 169
“I WON’T ASK FOR CASEY’S HELP” TO TAR, OR NOT TO TAR That is the question 33 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Dani Pedrosa expects no help in his championship battle from Casey Stoner, if his Australian team-mate returns as expected for the next round at Motegi in two weeks. And he won’t ask him for any help either. “You win championships because you are better than the others, not because anyone helps you,” he insisted, when asked the question at Aragon. Dani’s points gap is 33 points, and with four races to go there are still 100 on the table. But if he were to win every remaining race he needs for Lorenzo to be third or worse at all of them. Only Stoner could help him achieve this. “If Casey comes back, I am sure it is because he wants to win the last races of his career,” said Pedrosa. “Casey is a winner, and I wouldn’t ask him anything like this. I wouldn’t ask him,” he said. If there is any precedent, it usually goes the other way ... and the most famous example involves none other than Pedrosa. It was in 2006, when his then Repsol Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden was battling for the title with Rossi. Nicky arrived at the penultimate round in Portugal leading on points, but left nine points behind after a memorable error by Pedrosa sent him flying at the end of the back straight. In the end Nicky won the crown when Rossi crashed at the last race at Valencia. But he certainly didn’t have any help from Dani. Nicky Hayden had a horrible crash at Aragon. It was on the long corner at the end of the long back straight. Tipping the bike in on the second lap, the front slid away. He saved it, but now he was heading off the track still on his wheels, at a trajectory and speed not anticipated by the track designers. The surface was gravel, meaning he had no real control. And he hit the barrier, hard enough to flip himself right over it like a rag doll. He landed heavily on the other side, very lucky indeed not to hit anything or anyone, and to escape serious injury. What if it had not been gravel, but asphalt, as is the case on a number of other corners on this track and nowadays many others? In this case, it probably would have saved him. He would have been able to brake. But the answer is not that simple, as team-mate Rossi pointed out: “Sometimes gravel is better. If you fall on wet asphalt, you can slide a long way, but in gravel you will stop. For sure we will talk about it in the next Safety Commission meeting.” When asphalt first started to replace gravel traps some six or seven years ago, many riders were critical. Particularly Casey Stoner, who decried the fact that it gave riders a second chance – to run wide, slow down, and rejoin the track. “If you make a mistake, you should pay for it,” he said at the time. Hayden paid for it on Sunday. Everyone was thankful that this time the price was not too high. MOTOGP >>> ARAGON