Casey Stoner: Restoring Honda's lost pride
After being the driving force behind MotoGP's 800cc formula, Honda badly needed to win it before the category was replaced by 1000cc machines in 2012. Thankfully for the manufacturer, along came Casey Stoner, as Toby Moody explains
Sitting at my desk back in February I eagerly followed the progress of the MotoGP test that was taking place out in Malaysia after the enforced winter testing ban. Liveries were revealed and new crash helmet designs shown to the world, but one picture caught my eye. It was spectacular and showed that one guy in particular was totally hand-in-glove with his 2011 motorbike; that guy was Casey Stoner. He was hanging off the bike through a right-hander, the rear Bridgestone spinning like hell behind him with the front firmly planted. During a lap both wheels were certainly not always in contact with the ground.
Honda had had enough of having its nose rubbed in it by Ducati and Yamaha from 2007-2010 and hired Stoner for 2011 and the year after. Honda Racing Corporation management had seen the Australian as the final pice in its jigsaw after giving everything to Dani Pedrosa, who won races well, but had not strung together a complete season due to numerous injuries. Honda needed another rider to just get the job done and that rider was Stoner. Remember, HRC didn't really care who won the title, it just wanted that rider to be Honda-mounted in 2011.
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