Q & A with Casey Stoner
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, June 24th 2007, 14:29 GMT|
Casey Stoner extended his MotoGP championship lead to 26 points with a commanding win at a damp Donington Park - his second victory in a row, and his fifth in eight races this season.
Afterwards the Australian spoke to the press about the significance of the result, and his view of the rest of the championship battle.
Q: This victory has shown that you can win on any surface and on any track. You must be so happy with how things are going?
Casey Stoner: It is good because it proves to a lot of people that Ducati doesn't just have power. In Catalunya, a few people saw that everyone else is starting to catch up but we still managed to be as fast, if not faster, than them most of the time.
We have been improving the bike all the time, with its weak points, and now it doesn't have a weak point. We just need to improve it as a package. Obviously it is the best bike out there at the moment and I cannot complain. Everything has been working perfectly all weekend and pretty much all season.
Q: It was a shocking start though, wasn't it?
CS: I got the perfect jump and was looking at the first corner straight away. I had the perfect clutch release and then I think I must have hit a painted line or something because it spun up straightaway. So I was panicking a little bit at that moment because I saw everyone zooming past me and I thought I would be last into the first corner. But we still arrived in a reasonable position and were able to pick our way through.
Q: When a dry line started emerging halfway through the race, what did you start thinking then?
CS: That was another point where I wasn't too sure. Colin (Edwards) seemed to be taking it nice and smooth and slower, and I knew I could go a fair bit quicker. So I decided to go past. But a few laps later, as I saw it was continuing to get drier, I was worried a little bit that maybe I was destroying the rear tyre and maybe I would not finish the race.
So I started going over all the wet patches that I could and then trying to race on the wet part of the track, and not the dry line. I got to the last five laps and realised the tyre wasn't getting any worse and it had a pretty good feeling with it still, so I continued to drive around on the dry line. The tyre still looked pretty good at the end of the race considering it was the softest option.
Q: Your career has come full circle now. You started road racing here and now you are leading the MotoGP championship. What does it mean to win here of all places?
CS: It is pretty good because this has been one of my worst circuits over the grand prix years. I have always had some reasonable results here, but I have only had one podium, which was in the wet in 2005. This weekend in general, even in the dry conditions, we were pretty confident for the race in the dry. And in the wet conditions we were competitive but I didn't realise how competitive. Obviously the bike has been working well for me and we were able to pull it out at every circuit pretty much.
Q: And more points in the lead. You are 26 points clear, which is a race win from Valentino Rossi. Does that make you think a bit more about the championship?
CS: Not really. I am enjoying the races as they come and if you start looking at a championship, maybe you start to get too involved with it. I am enjoying all these races, these last ones, whether I win or whether I don't get on the podium. It is just nice to be out there, and I know coming out of a corner I am not going to lose the front. I have got that confidence in myself and the bike, and I am able to really get myself involved in the race and really enjoy it.
Q: In six days' time we are racing in Assen. Does that help you now that the races are coming thick and fast?
CS: Not really. There are too many races now, personally, and every year they just keeping adding one to the calendar each time, although luckily this year they took one off. We will see how we go, but it doesn't really matter too much that these races keep coming one after another. I would still prefer it if there was a little bit of time in between.
Q: On Friday you were scathing about the conditions out there and the state of the track. How did you find it today?
CS: It was drier! It has definitely improved today compared to Friday. It was a little bit more predictable. But this is probably one of the worst circuits I have ever ridden on in the wet. It definitely gets a bit hairy out there. So I think either something should be done for the wet conditions, because you don't seem to find any grip or feeling with the tarmac. And that is why so many riders are crashing here.
Q: Before the Spanish Grand Prix a few weeks ago you said you were quite worried about Valentino Rossi for Catalunya, Donington Park and Assen where he has been particularly strong in the past. But you have won two out of those three races. How significant is that for the championship?
CS: I didn't say I was worried, I said he was going to be strong there. And he has proven it. All weekend he has been strong here. He was strong in Catalunya and he was strong in Mugello. And he is going to be strong in Assen. He does not have a lot of weaknesses. But I am not necessarily worried about it.
I am going to go and do my own thing, try and be as fast as I can and get ourselves best prepared for the races. At the last two events it has obviously worked. We will continue in this way and if we end up with another great result like this, great. But if not, we will settle for whatever we can get.