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Cecchinello: Stoner in a class of his own

03/05/22

His natural skill level was unrivalled.

Australia's dual MotoGP™ World Champion Casey Stoner had a natural skill level that was unrivalled in the world's premier two-wheel road-racing category; that's the view of LCR Honda MotoGP™ Team Principal Lucio Cecchinello, who features on the latest episode of the In The Fast Lane podcast.

Cecchinello, who competed for his eponymous team as a 125cc rider from 1996 and entered MotoGP™ with Honda as a team boss 10 years later, campaigned a young Stoner in his 125cc and 250cc days before the Australian stepped into MotoGP™ as a rookie in 2006. Stoner qualified on pole position for his second premier-class Grand Prix in Qatar, finished in second place one race later in Turkey, and became world champion for Ducati as a 21-year-old in 2007.

Speaking on the Australian Grand Prix's official podcast, Cecchinello said Stoner's ability was best encapsulated by his first MotoGP™ visit to the fearsome Laguna Seca circuit in California, where the American riders had significantly more experience and an advantage over the rest of the field.

"Without any doubt, for me Casey is one of the most talented riders of the last two decades," Cecchinello said.

"He has a natural skill to ride the bike that is amazing. He just jump on a bike, whatever is the bike, he naturally feels the bike quite quickly, even in new race tracks.

"He'd never even seen Laguna Seca … in 2006, on the Thursday (Dorna CEO) Carmelo Ezpeleta came with a car in front of our pit garage and said 'Casey, do you want to have a lap to look at the track?' He said 'no, I already saw it on PlayStation!'. The next day, after half an hour of practice it was (Americans) Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden, then Casey Stoner. That says something about his talent."

Cecchinello, whose MotoGP™ team features Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami and Spain's Alex Marquez riding Hondas this season, feels the depth in the sport is greater than it has ever been, with five different riders winning races already this year, and Ducati, KTM, Aprilia and Yamaha taking victories in the opening six Grands Prix of 2022.

"It's definitely the most competitive time," he said of this season, his 26th as a team principal.

"When we debut in MotoGP in 2006, it was quite an open category. Dorna during the course of the years tried to compress all of the technologies, a mono-supplier for the tyres, the electronics, hardware and software, standardise the engine configurations. The result is that the category is very competitive and exciting to see, but very stressful for the riders – and the team managers."

The podcast is available on Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts platforms.



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