Stoner Sprays Race Winner Valentino Rossi
While finishing less than 1-1/2 seconds behind Valentino Rossi would make most riders ecstatic, Casey Stoner had reason to be unhappy following the Portuguese MotoGP event this last weekend. Beginning early in the race, Stoner had problems with his clutch slipping. This apparently eliminated all engine braking, and made corner entry feel like he was riding a two-stroke. The problem was confirmed by his team after the race.
You might be justified expecting Casey Stoner to crash in this situation as a result of over-riding the bike in an effort to keep up with the leaders. But this is the new Casey Stoner.
The new, more mature Casey Stoner is staying off the tarmac consistently, and riding very smart.
The fact is that Casey Stoner does not need to take unnecessary risks at this point. With four races remaining, he has a virtual lock on the championship. He does not need to beat Valentino Rossi any more. Indeed, with four rounds remaining, he could cruise to the championship without ever touching the podium.
Nevertheless, we expect Stoner will win again before the end of the series (perhaps, all four races), because he is riding so well, and his bike is generally working so well, this year. He just won’t take unnecessary risks.