Monday, 3 October 2011
Casey Stoner might have one hand on the 2011 MotoGP world title but a 13th consecutive podium in Japan yesterday did little to disguise the Australian’s disappointment at failing to win the Twin Ring Motegi clash.
When Stoner hit the front from pole position on the opening lap, many expected the 25-year-old to streak away to record a ninth win of the season.
But an uncharacteristic mistake on the brakes at the end of the back straight on the fifth lap saw Stoner plough into the gravel trap at high speed.
He managed to keep his factory Honda RC212V machine upright but dropped down to seventh before he recovered superbly to keep his proud record of scoring a podium in each race he has finished in 2011.
With Jorge Lorenzo in second, Stoner only surrendered four points in the title hunt and he can still clinch the title on home soil at Phillip Island if he scores ten or more points than his Spanish adversary.
And the 2007 world champion said: "It could have been worse, but not a lot worse. Everything felt good all weekend and the bike has been fantastic and it was the same for the race. We got a gap quite easily, so we sort of wanted to manage that. Then I saw Andrea (Dovizioso) pull a few tenths back and I knew he was on the softer tyre, so we thought we can go a little bit quicker here because I didn’t want to push too much in those early laps to struggle too much with the hard tyre. Then I had the issue on the brakes and I couldn’t make the corner. I’m disappointed because in some ways we’re lucky we still ended up on the podium, but I feel we should have been fighting for that win and it’s disappointing."
Asked what he thought had upset his bike in the braking zone when he ran off he added: "It’s not one bump, there’s a lot. But I hadn’t had any kind of reaction off the bike all weekend and as I came over there I had the slightest movement before the bigger bump, because there’s a few small ones before it and as the front came down it just shook. I have no idea why it did that but I’d gone over it a lot of different ways during the weekend. It was just a bit surprising that we had that problem during the race."
For six pages of news and views from the Japanese Grand Prix, see the October 5 issue of MCN.