Wayne’s World: Casey Rules

| August 31, 2011

Wayne Gardner shares his thoughts with the readers of cyclennews.com…MORE OF THE SAME

What can we say about Casey Stoner that we haven’t already said on many occasions throughout 2011? His dominant performance at the latest US MotoGP proved yet again that he is a cut above everyone else out there. While the race itself was a disappointing and lackluster affair from an entertainment perspective, from a sheer technical viewpoint, the Honda rider’s calculated strategy was the stuff that world championships are made of. His teammate Dani Pedrosa tried hard but was never really in the hunt. I wonder how he and manager Alberto Puig must be feeling right about now.

Despite having the best machinery Honda can offer at his disposal for something like six seasons, Casey has just come in and blown him away at the first attempt. Of course, Dani’s not the only guy having problems keeping up. Over at Yamaha, I’d have to say that poor old Jorge also looks like a beaten man. Studying the performance of the World Champion’s bike on Sunday, I really don’t think there’s too much difference between it and the Honda. Yes, it might be lacking in a tiny bit of top end, but I wouldn’t say the deficit is huge. The truth is that Casey is simply riding rings around the opposition at the moment, and that so far, he seems to have an answer for pretty much anything.

From a home rider perspective, it was a shame Ben Spies got such a bad start after qualifying so strongly. He could have been much closer to the front had things worked out better, but I still don’t think he would have been a match for Stoner. Still, the fact he managed to beat Lorenzo for I think the first time in his MotoGP career (Assen notwithstanding) will give him something to smile about. The only other result that did impress me was Alvaro Bautista on the lone Suzuki. Sixth place is a pretty massive effort for such an under-funded and under-resourced team. He beat all the Ducatis, two Yamahas, and Marco Simoncelli’s Honda – definitely not a bad job at all. I just hope it gives the factory the adrenalin shot it so desperately needs.


Sunday’s race was actually the first time I’d had a chance to watch a full MotoGP event at Indy, and I have to say I thought the whole thing was a bit ordinary. Put simply, the track they’ve constructed in the infield is simply not a proper MotoGP track. It’s way too tight, twisty and short, and doesn’t go close to allowing a MotoGP machine to display its amazing potential. That’s one of the reasons why the race was so boring, with the nature of the layout quickly seeing the field broken up into a drawn-out procession. Making things even worse were the poor grip levels that caused everyone to be extremely tentative. Did you see all those slippery rubber marbles on the edge of the racing line? I’ve never seen that at any European MotoGP track.

If MotoGP really wants to tap the massive U.S. market and draw in new fans, then races like this are definitely not the way to go. Add in a small race day crowd of only 60,000, and the whole spectacle just didn’t have anything to offer, either as a live or a TV spectacle. To me it felt like a show race, or an overblown club day, and not an actual MotoGP event. I know that Indianapolis is the definitive and undisputed icon of U.S. motorsport, but I fail to see its relevance to MotoGP. I just don’t think it works. I’m just hoping the new venue being planned for Texas provides the perfect stage for demonstrating to American fans just what MotoGP is really all about.

Wayne Gardner