We're not even two races into the season and it's probably fair to say that Casey Stoner is tired of talking about chatter and arm pump, but those were the two topics of conversation with the Australian during today's pre-MotoGP press conference in Jerez, Spain.
Stoner suffered from arm pump in the first race of the season at Qatar, dropping him from what appeared to be certain victory to an eventual third-place finish. After the race, he explained that arm pump had ruined his GP. Now he's hopeful that with treatment during the three weeks off, it will no longer be an issue. He's also at a track on which he's never won - not in 125s, 250s or MotoGP, though last year he might have been in a position to do so if not for being knocked down by Valentino Rossi.
"Basically with arm pump it's difficult to replicate," Stoner said. "We don't get to go and test these bikes during the week, so it's really difficult to understand if you make any improvements or not. So we can only do what we have done and hope for the best this weekend. We're doing quite a few different things and different solutions. It worked back in 2010 [when he had it last] and so, hopefully, this year we can do the same thing basically and get ourselves back on track. At the same time there are a lot of positives to take from the last race, a lot more than negatives. So I think we can come here with a fair bit of confidence."
Anyone who has had arm pump knows what Stoner was going through. And most who have ever ridden at the local motocross track have experienced it. For all practical purposes, it makes it so you can no longer hold on to the handlebars. You have too options: stop or slow down and hope for the best. If you're at the local motocross track, you pull off and get a Gatorade. If you're leading a MotoGP, you slow down. Stoner slowed down.
"Basically, it's something that happens a lot more in motocross - when you're riding motocross you haven't done it for a lot of years or months or something, you get arm pump," Stoner explained. "It normally goes away. Having such short sessions of what we do as well, for us it sort of just built up over the weekend. I don't think the chattering helped too much. There's no excuses for that. My whole career I've had it twice, once in 2010 and once now. Yeah, it's not something I've had consistently. It's just a little strange that it's popped up all of a sudden."
Someone asked if the arm pump comes from playing too much tennis.
"I'd half think [that] if it hadn't been my left arm as well," Stoner said. "So you play tennis with your right hand and I got arm pump on my left as well. Basically arm pump's just a circulation problem and the fact that it's just come on quite quickly again is maybe something to do with that. We did all we could and we're doing as much stretching and things like that in preparation because we can't do too much more these last days. But, yeah, I mean it's hard to say, but I don't think so."
Although he already said he wouldn't discuss his practice on getting rid of arm pump, Stoner was questioned about it. To which he responded... "I've already said that I won't disclose what I do to treat arm pump. Everyone sort of has their own things. And like I said, it worked in 2010 really well for us. Within five days to a week it seemed to work, so hopefully we have the same sort of thing here. I haven't been feeling the best the last week, so hopefully what we've done has sunk in a little bit more. It's our own exercises and everything that we do and we'll see if it works. It's not something I really want to share."
Of a more pressing concern might be the Bridgestone front tires.
"We haven't really got a new tire," Stoner said. "I mean it's two. You can't really test this during a race weekend and then leave this for the race. I mean a quantity of two is ridiculous in my opinion. There's no point of having one to test and one to race with. So you're going to need more than that. It's definitely not going to help our issues and it doesn't help any of our issues at all. In fact, we just found that it was a lot less stable in the braking point and entry point. So don't really know what to do with this tire. Everyone else seemed to prefer it, but we'll make do with whatever we have."