Q and A with Casey Stoner

Casey Stoner ran away with the MotoGP season opener in Qatar, but could only manage fourth in Japan a week ago. Now he arrives at Jerez, where he has never finished on the podium in any category

Q and A with Casey Stoner

After practice, he told the assembled media how he was feeling about the weekend ahead, and the changes in MotoGP for 2009. AUTOSPORT was there to hear his thoughts.

Q. How was the first day for you?

Casey Stoner: It seemed to go alright. We had a technical problem with one of the bikes, so we weren't able to run that through the session, and we need these sessions to get as much time on track as we can.

We were trying to make some big changes on the other bike, and unfortunately there wasn't enough time to make big changes so we just made little ones, really just moved the problem we had around, we didn't really fix it. Tomorrow, with the solutions that we made and came up with, we should be a fair bit more confident.

Q. What is the difference between today and the IRTA test, when you were fastest?

CS: Not a lot of difference. The temperature's a little bit different, the track feels good and the bike feels good. I just had a couple of little problems where we were losing the front end and we can't really understand why, so I think there must be something a little bit different from when we were here at the test and we need to sort the problems. Also, we had a little bit too much pressure in the front tyre. It was what was recommended, but unfortunately with these temperatures the pressure went too high so I had a smaller contact patch, so I was losing confidence at the front.

Q. Can you catch the gap to the Yamahas that was there in Japan?

CS: We didn't have a gap in Japan, we just had a problem at the start of the race.

Q. Is that issue fixed?

CS: We had a problem with the front brakes that was nothing to do with my team. It was the manufacturer's problem, I think. Towards the end of the race it came good and I was running the same lap times as the guys at the front. So I think if we had been there at the beginning of the race, we'd have been there at the end.

Q. The problems at Motegi were completely related to the brakes?

CS: We've run many, many tyres and never had that problem. There must have been some particular problem with the brake discs or pads.

Q. Is your setting completely different on the two bikes today?

CS: The setting is completely different and we wanted to try the other but we couldn't use the second bike because we had a technical problem. Tomorrow should be a little bit better. The main problem we had today was the front end. We kept closing the front end in a lot of corners. I really didn't want to crash, so we'll just try to solve the problem, but there's not enough time to make really big changes during the sessions now. So we were making a lot of small changes, but they don't really make the difference where we need it. Hopefully the weather will be alright tomorrow.

Q. Did you just use the harder tyre today?

CS: Yeah, just one set for the whole session. The feeling of the tyres wasn't too bad. Because of the temperatures the pressures got a little bit high and I think that's why I was closing the front.

Q. In general, are you happy with the single tyre regulations?

CS: Some people are using it as a safety problem. I think that's absolute bullcrap, because nobody is finding it a safety issue. The amount of tyres we have for a weekend is plenty. We're in a difficult moment with this financial crisis, and we've made these rules for a reason - and then everybody wants to go up and change them.

I think bringing back the one hour sessions is a better idea, because everyone's going out and doing the same number of laps anyway. We're trying to panic and get in as many as we can, and we're doing the same amount of laps as we would have in a one hour session. As for the tyres, we've seen no problem.

If everyone's running around on tyres that are destroyed, then you've got to set your bike up to make it last the race or suit a certain tyre. We've done two races and already the rules have changed a couple of times - they're (apparently) going to bring the (one hour) sessions back, they're trying to change the amount of tyres that are allowed, and I just don't think it's necessary. It's worked well for the first couple of races, so why change it?

Q. Would you like to have the Friday morning session back?

CS: For me it's a better idea, even if we went to 45 minutes for four of them instead of three one-hour sessions. Everyone's here, everyone's ready, and on Friday morning we're all sitting around doing nothing.

Q. So all the riders want the Friday session back?

CS: Everyone wants the Friday session back. Everyone's flying here, we all arrive on the same day, we have the press conference on Thursday and everyone has to be here, but we're only getting on track on Friday afternoon, so it's a waste of time. I'm not the one doing the numbers, but for me it's a waste of money as well. We're sitting here not doing anything, we've got the track running, and everybody is ready for it. For sure I've seen a lot less spectators here than I have in the past on a Friday. This is having an impact, for sure.

Q. If you went back to four practice sessions, would you limit the laps or leave it how it is?

CS: I'd leave it at 45 minutes, so you'd still have the laps free

Q. How much of an impact on your set-up programme does losing that session have?

CS: A big impact for everybody. The racing's going to be a lot more spread out this year because nobody has the opportunity to change their bike or set-up during the session because it just wastes time and you just need to do laps. If something happens like at Motegi, where you have one wet, one dry session and the other one's cancelled, it completely screws your weekend. We have to make do with what it is, but nobody really has the opportunity to make the settings that they need to to run at the front.

Q. Have you talked about this in the safety commission?

CS: Yep.

Q. Have you made a proposal to Dorna?

CS: We've put it forward, that's about as far as we can go with it. I think it's more a decision for the MSMA rather than the safety comission. It's not a safety issue. Just like the tyres for me is not a safety issue. They're trying to make it one, but it's not, it's for the sport. So it's not really our department.

Q. If you fix the problems today, how confident are you that you can get back to the pace you had at the test here?

CS: As long as I get into the mid-1m39s I'm going to be pretty happy, and I don't think we're too far away from that. We know of one or two problems that would have improved it immediately. Then we just need to improve a little bit more, and maybe from myself as well. As long as we can get back to what we were doing in the test, I'm going to be happy. If we can come away from this weekend with a good result, not like last year, then we'll be happy.

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