Casey Stoner upset with aggressive Valentino Rossi

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Casey Stoner criticised MotoGP title rival Valentino Rossi after the pair tangled in an epic Laguna Seca race.

Aussie Stoner was upset with what he felt was over aggressive tactics by Rossi to secure his 66th career win, and a first since he triumphed on home soil in Mugello.
Several times in a frantic opening six laps, Stoner and Rossi exchanged overtakes as fans were treated to the best MotoGP race of 2008.

Stoner was particularly aggrieved by Rossi’s move under braking at the famous Corkscrew on lap four. Rossi briefly ran off track and when he fought his was way back out of the dirt, Stoner’s Ducati GP8 nearly collided with the Italian.

A thrilling race was decided at the last corner on lap 24 as Stoner ran wide at the final corner and crashed when he ran into deep gravel. He remounted to claim second but he then started a war of words with Rossi over his riding.

Stoner mentioned his disappointment at Rossi’s tactics twice – once in Parc Ferme and again on the podium. And he didn’t brush over his feelings in the post race press conference either.

“Most of the time it was very nice, very clean. Valentino was riding a great pace at the front and he was riding very well. But I just felt that some of the passing moves were maybe a little bit too much and past the point of fair or aggressive.

“I’ve been riding for a lot of years and even though I’m only 22, I’ve been racing for 18 years. I’ve had a lot of overtaking moves on me, and I’ve done a lot of overtaking moves.

“It was just some of the most aggressive I’ve had in a long, long time, “said the Aussie, who had won the previous three races in dominant fashion.

Asked which moves had particularly infuriated him, Stoner added: “Three moves. I think everybody would have seen them. I think a couple of other ones were okay. They were all nice and clean, but just a couple I wasn’t really happy with.”

Stoner’s failure to convert another dominant practice and qualifying into a race win was all his own doing with his error eight laps from the end.

He said: “I was a little bit disappointed with the fact that towards the end of the race I made the mistake going into the last corner and as I tried to come back onto the track I seemed to hit a deeper part of the sand, rather than dirt and I just lost the front.

“So I’m a little bit disappointed with that, but it was completely my mistake and I have to deal with it. I was basically trying to find the right place to get past and actually pull a gap.

“We knew we had a faster pace, but Valentino, like I said, was riding a great race, very defensive and very difficult to pass. So I was a little bit disappointed we oculdnt’ get past too easily, like I just said, Valentino was very, very defensive and rode a fantastic race, he wasn’t making any mistakes and it was very hard to find an opening.”

Despite losing five points on Rossi, Stoner said he was still firmly in contention to mount a successful defence of his world crown.”

He said: “We just have to look since Donington how many points we’ve gained. We’ve been very competitive over these last races, which has given us more confidence.

“I mean before them we weren’t really giving much of a show to the front of the pack and now we can actually really fight. So this is the most important thing. And this is what we’ve got to concentrate on and focus on.

“Considering not too long ago we were considered out of the championship, I think we’re in with a fair chance, but for sure it’s going to be very, very hard.”


Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt