Casey Stoner memories: Andy Dawson

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In the second part of MCN’s exclusive series of Stoner memories, Ohlins suspension technician Andy Dawson, who worked with the Australian throughout his MotoGP career at Ducati and Honda, recalls his epic victory over Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa at Catalunya in 2007 as one of the outstanding memories.

“In Barcelona in 2007 we were in a bit of a mess with Bridgestone and we made a massive change with the bike and it worked. We moved the weight distribution massively because we had no rear grip.

“Giving people more rear grip would probably have made it unrideable for most but it was unreal what he could do. His first timed lap he was getting red helmets everywhere. Give him rear grip and he can just ride around everything else.

“If you did that for Loris (Capirossi) he wouldn’t have been able to ride it. That race was the first time he beat Valentino in a straight fight. We’d beaten him a couple of times but people kept saying it was because his bike was so fast but in that race he actually beat him in a straight fight.

“That was the point of the season where we thought we can do this. We had a breakthrough in testing at Phillip Island when he did a race simulation that was much faster than Loris and Barcelona was the place where we realised he had a good chance of winning the championship.

“Nobody really gave him the credit he deserved and everybody was always looking for an excuse on why he was so fast. But there is no excuse, that was his talent.  He’s was so determined and he’s got so much self-belief. He’s the fastest rider I’ve ever seen. For sheer speed I don’t know if there will ever be anybody else like him.

“I remember the first time he rode the Ducati at the Valencia test at the end of 2006, at the long left before the last corner, he just had the throttle on the stop round there from the first lap.

“Sete (Gibernau) rode that engine and he said that thing was like riding a two-stroke screamer. He said the power was all or nothing and it was just an animal. Casey jumped on it and within half a day he was sliding it around that long left. The data bloke couldn’t believe it.

“You could see he was special but at that stage we just thought we’d be fixing a lot of crashed bikes. The bike was a handful to ride but he just loved it.

“There’s never been a dull moment working with him. He was either fastest or coming in spitting feathers that the bike is a load of crap. You knew though come 2pm on a Sunday afternoon he will wring its neck.

“It was challenging at times because he doesn’t accept second best. You couldn’t get complacent. If he finished a session fastest and you thought it was job done, that’s when he’d come in and bawl you out.

“It didn’t matter how much faster he was than everybody else you have to assume the worst and forget about the timesheet. He always wanted more.

“Even if he won by 10 seconds he would still tell you what’s wrong with it, but it was great because you knew he didn’t waste a second on track and what he could do on a motorcycle was amazing. It was a privilege to see it all happen up close.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt