Ride Casey Stoner’s bike

Do what no one else can do and get to grips with the Ducati Desmosedici, the fiercest race bike on the planet

Several myths have grown up around Casey Stoner’s synergy with the 800cc MotoGP Desmosedici, the most oft-quoted being that it’s Ducati’s electronics package that gives him the advantage. If that were true, why couldn’t Loris Capirossi, Marco Melandri, Sylvain Guintoli, Toni Elias, Alex Barros or Alex Hofmann couldn’t ride it? It’s too early to add Nicky Hayden to that list.

Ducati team manager Livio Suppo’s favourite reason/excuse for this anomaly is rider-related, that all of them bar Casey have underperformed, the proof being Stoner’s ability to set an eye-watering lap time on his first or second flying lap. The other riders come in, take a look at the timing screens, note that they’re two seconds down and start changing everything rather than blaming themselves. Given the way riders’ minds work, there may be an element of truth here, but the speed with which the team changed Hayden’s race engineer after spending a year refusing to do the same for Melandri says otherwise.

Casey always professes himself mystified when asked why no one else can ride “his” bike. Recently, however, he has been a little more forthcoming. He’s suggested Nicky should try a “simpler setting” and revealed he’s using the oldest electronics package the team has because it gives him “more control”. This suggests he is riding the Duke with a minimum of electronic control, and that the others are trying to use too much. Corroboration comes from an experienced rival race engineer who told me Casey rides with virtually no traction control; in other words he is a genius with the throttle.

One thing’s for sure – the bike is hypersensitive. Asked on the Friday before Mugello whether the Ducati likes the circuit, Casey smiled: “It depends how it’s feeling”. We knew it was fickle before, becoming a different machine with the smallest tweaks at some tracks while refusing to feel any different after huge changes at others. Now it seems the thing can change its mind at the same circuit.

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