One swallow does not make a summer, but Casey Stoner is now a serious player in MotoGP. He may have been 'Crasher Stoner' in the past, but now he is "being listened to more in the team," he is married and he is at one with his life and his current situation. The guy is a different rider.
He beat Valentino Rossi in a fair and square race at the weekend, and there are not too many riders who can say that. I say 'fair and square' because the 21-year-old Australian managed to withstand the pressure as the number 46 plate harried him for the entire 22-lap race.
There is a top speed advantage with the Ducati, yes, but you still have to ride the rest of the lap with the Yamaha trying to pass. I was extremely impressed by his ride, and many other observers were too.
Casey Stoner, Ducati, winner of the Qatar Grand Prix © Reuters
Many have buckled under the pressure of Rossi behind them. Can one imagine standing in goal if Beckham is going to take the free kick? Or being in a play-off against Tiger Woods? Or starting the last lap with Senna right up behind your gearbox? Stoner withstood that pressure and was almost "yeah, whatever" after the race.