Casey Stoner: “The worst thing to happen to MotoGP? Getting rid of the grass”

Double MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner turns his ire towards Moto3 rider standards and points the finger of blame at circuits that don't punish errors

Casey Stoner - Ducati

Double MotoGP World Champion has been making a rare public appearance at this weekend’s Algarve MotoGP at Portimao and he’s certainly been making up for lost time with regards to airing his opinion across a wide range of topics.

Famously forthright in his views, an suspicion forged during his relatively short tenure at the highest levels by which time he’d developed an uncompromising relationship with a media he felt supported arch rival Valentino Rossi over him, Stoner has kept a low profile since his retirement in 2012 in part due to contracting the debilitating chronic fatigue syndrome.

However, he has made the trip to Portimao as a guest of Ducati and has subsequently been followed wherever he goes by journalists to get his views on all manner of subjects.

Having fielded questions relating to his old-rival-turned-frenemy Rossi ahead of his own retirement next week, Stoner’s attentions turned to the current state of the sport having opined recently that the onset of electronics and the move to four-strokes validates his reasons for retiring at the age of 27.

However, the 2007 and 2011 MotoGP World Champion saved some criticism for the way circuits have developed with excess asphalt run-off over time, with Portimao - built in 2008 but not hosting MotoGP for the first time until 2020 - a prime example of his gripes.

Linking it to the debate over rider standards in the Moto3 World Championship, which has come in for particularly scrutiny in 2021, he says riders are racing knowing a mistake or letting off the brakes in the attempt to pass - or be passed - won’t ultimately be punished beyond running wide and opening the throttle again at the loss of minimal time. 

“It’s a difficult subject with the young riders. I think the support needs to come more from the Race Direction. There needs to be a little more either clarity or definitive decisions on riding, because there have no issues for so many years and now there is all this leeway. There is no edge of the track anymore, it just keeps going.

“It is limited by some green paint and that doesn’t help the situation. People have no fear anymore because there is no edge of the track. When there was grass, everyone was kinda checking here they were, while now is like ‘Hey, I got past him and it doesn’t matter, he run off the track but there is plenty of track there’, he began to say.

Branding it the worst thing to happen to motorcycle racing, Stoner says the lack of a ‘limit’ removes the challenge that Moto3 riders should be learning.

“I think everyone needs to learn to have a little more respect for each other. I don’t think it’s just the young riders causing this. I’ve a lot of more mature and more experienced riders still doing the same. 

“I think it all stands from the penalties and punishments, maybe not being harsh enough and maybe not being definitive and clear enough.

“For me, the worst thing that happened to motorcycle racing was that extra run-off. There is no edge of the track, no limit, and I think that makes it harder to contain everyone inside.”