Mugello MotoGP: Casey Stoner loses more ground in title race

By Matthew Birt -

MotoGP

 16 July 2012 09:41

Casey Stoner’s hopes of walking away from MotoGP at the end of the season as world champion suffered another major blow in Mugello yesterday.

The Australian ended a difficult weekend in a disappointing eighth position and with factory Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo romping to a fifth win, Stoner heads into the second half of the campaign trailing the Spaniard by a massive 37-points.

Stoner never got close to his brilliant best form in Italy and he was only running in fifth position when his bid to salvage a podium was ended by an off-track excursion on lap 10.

The 26-year-old lost 15 seconds ploughing through the gravel trap and dropped back to 10th and he admitted he simply couldn’t find a good set-up with his factory RC213V machine.

Stoner told MCN: “All weekend Jorge has ridden fantastic and hasn't put a foot wrong. I thought I could fight for the podium and I had the pace to go with Dani but in reality third position would have been a good result.

"We just couldn't get the bike to work, even in the warm-up. For the race I still wasn't happy and not feeling comfortable at all. It was a disappointing end to a difficult weekend. I thought I might have been able to salvage something today but couldn't.”

After crashing out of second on the last lap the previous weekend in Germany, the last thing Stoner needed was another disappointing result.

But when he ran off the track right in front of a packed grandstand filled exclusively by Ducati fans, Stoner was seeing more vital championship points slip from his grasp.

Explaining what had caused him to run off he added: “I guess I had a little shake the exit before and went into the turn and had no brakes. I was squeezing them as hard as I could and had enough brake power to stop but as I got towards the outside area it was dusty and I closed the front.

"I backed off the brakes a little bit and then I couldn't stop before the gravel trap. It wasted a lot of time. It was game over in terms of the race result from there."

Stoner’s recovery saw him accused of dangerous riding by San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista when a hard move at Turn 2 on lap 17 saw heavy contact made.

He managed to get back into eighth to score eight points but he admitted he wasn’t overly concerned by the big gap to Lorenzo.

"I don't like to think about championships until the end of the season. I go for race results and unfortunately here was disappointing and also last weekend. 

"Our pace has been there to be fighting for the win in a lot of other races but things haven't rolled our way sometimes and plus we have made our own mistakes. I'm not disappointed.

"I still think I have a chance to win a lot more races by the end of the year,  said Stoner.

Lorenzo’s emphatic win means he’s now won more than 50% of the races in 2012 but Stoner doesn’t believe the new YZR-M1 1000cc is a vastly superior machine to his RC213V.

Honda’s failure to iron out chronic front and rear chatter with new softer compound Bridgestone tyres has blunted Stoner’s challenge and he said: “The biggest disappointment with our bike is that we haven't fixed any of the chatter problems and now we have this new front tyre I just can't find any confidence or feeling in the front.

"I can't attack the corner entry like I used to be able to. I'm nervous under brakes and I'm not getting the best out of the bike and tyres. This is the most disappointing thing that we haven't been able to fix that.

"I could say the Yamaha is more competitive but I'd say that Jorge has been doing the job on it and he is making the difference.”

For the thoughts of Bautista and Stoner on their controversial clash in Sunday’s race, see the July 18 issue of