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Can Anyone Beat Stoner in 2012?

Winner of the first and the last of the 800cc MotoGP championships, Casey Stoner stays with Honda next year aboard its new 1000cc weapon.  Stoner has already been posting good times on the new bike during early testing.  The question is, can anyone beat a healthy Stoner in 2012?  We want our readers to weigh in with their thoughts below, and compare and contrast the various challengers to Stoner and give us your final opinion on the matter.

Obviously, it is very early and the new bikes could develop at different rates and won’t face off against each other in a definitive manner until after the holidays.  Nevertheless, let’s have some fun bench racing.

59 Comments

  1. Philip says:

    I think Honda will again be fastest. I’d like to throw Bautista’s name into the mix. He was very fast and becamce more consistent on the Suzuki as the season went on. The last time the Gresini team had a great loss in Daijiro Kato, a relatively middle of the pack Spaniard named Sete Gibernau was able to challenge Rossi for several years. If Bautista does well and gets more support from Honda I think he is the type of aggressive rider that could play mind games with Stoner and possibly force mistakes as Rossi did to Casey in 2008. Casey and Honda are the rightful favorites, but I don’t think he thinks it’s going to be a cakewalk so we shouldn’t either.

    • John says:

      Reports are that Gresini will be a true satellite team next year, not a factory team masquerading as a satellite team like it was this year for Super Sic. That will make it a lot harder for Bautista to be competitive.

      Regarding the Stoner-sucks-as-a-development-rider argument, I’m not sure why anyone cares. The object of racing is obviously to come across the finish line first, not to perfect a bike to hand off to your successor next year.

      • Jeff says:

        I thought early reports were that there would be no difference between the factory vs. satellite bikes for the Honda? It may well be that things are more equal early in the season, although I would expect this to change at some point during the year.

  2. man relish says:

    lets hope not….would love to see another riveting season of only stoner out front with no competition

  3. Tim says:

    Lorenzo and Stoner are the top 2 guys now. Whoever (of those two) has the bike advantage will win it. I do think the bigger motors will even the playing field somewhat. Honda was dramatically faster and more powerful this past season than the other bikes, and Stoner was the best Honda rider by a large margin. It is no surprise he won it.

    Spies could be a wild card next year as well. He’s at the top of the remaining group of riders. I love Rossi, but he’s lost his confidence and his mojo. I look for Hayden to have a good year as well. He’s better on the bigger point and shoot bikes, and going back to the 1000′s should help him.

  4. Bobby M says:

    Anyone can be beaten on any given race , however consistency over the whole season is a different story.

    Obviously Ducati will improve , yet I doubt that they will be as consistent as Stoner simply because Casey is able to ride around problems better and the Ducati will still have races where it wont work as well.

    Lorenzo is a classy rider and is the only real challenger as he always manages to be near the top and is well suited to his Yamaha.

  5. kirk66 says:

    I think that Stoner is beatable. Pedrosa can (he’d been closer in points if not for missing races this season). Dovi and Spies both will race better on the 1000s. And if FTR can make the chassis handle the Ducati power I expect Nick and Rossi to bothe be in the mix. We all know that Nick can win on 1000s. If Ducati gets it’s ducs in a row we should be in for a treat next season.

  6. RC says:

    Yes, Stoner can be beat by Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, they are hungry, ambitious and will have better bikes next year. I am a Rossi fan and I think 2012 will be a come back year for him…although “Stoner rides like a god” in Rossi’s words, and he actually does.

  7. Curve Killa' says:

    I’m a Rossi fan but I agree with John. Stoner is an absolute beast and if he has a bike that can run with the rest, his talent and fearlessness will make him a champion again. He won on a dog so he can definitely win on a competitiive bike. Honda figured that out and now they have a MotoGP championship.

  8. Trent says:

    The more powerful bike will up the percentages for Rossi, Spies, and Hayden, and lower them for Stoner and Pedrosa. So my answer is: yes.

  9. John says:

    Short answer: no. He won races on a bike (the Duc) that “The GOAT” can’t even podium on. Stoner has more talent and skill than anyone else in the paddock right now and as long as his bike is even close to being competitive he will win again.

    I’d pick Lorenzo to finish 2nd on the season and Pedrosa or Dovi third.

    • Rick says:

      Stoner may appear to be the most talented rider in the field, but IMO he can’t develop worth a ****. Rossi not only is a talented rider but very capable of developing a platform for a next level. Just look what he/Jeremy did with Honda, then an even more impressive Yamaha bike development. I’ll bet $$$$ Stoner can’t do that?

      • Pete says:

        In a whole season Rossi and Burgess did what with the Ducati? The very bike Burgess said they’d sort out in 80 seconds!!

      • motobell says:

        I am a Rossi fan too but redit where it is due.. this season has shown clearly stoner’s superior edge on the whole field being able to ride the desmosedici and win on it despite all the issues..thank god he was not on honda the last few years.. does anyone have doubt that he would at least won a few races if he was on the very same ducati?

        That said, 2012 he is odds on favorite although I expect pedrosa to challenge him more h=give it is do or die year. Jorge is a fighter and will be the other challenge.. everyone else can fight for second tier status.. even though I would love for spied to join it is too much to ask.

  10. frostbite says:

    All I can say is – “Bring it ON” ….. One thing for sure it is going to be an interesting year … Should be good … (Now what am I going to till the racing starts?) Geez, I hate this time of the season …

  11. Nomadak says:

    I look for Rossi to come back in a big way. I see Lorenzo at his very best trying to retain his number one status at Yamaha. I see Ben Spies continuing to develop into a top tier rider. I see Divisioso on the Tech 3 Yamaha giving fits. I see a finally fit Pedroso doing his very best to get a single title on what should surely be his last year on the Repsol if he does not perform.

    I’ve seen no one else mention it yet but the Marco Simocelli issue will be having a lingering effect on the psyche of all the riders. I know they are all racers at heart but that was such a gut wrenching ordeal….a supreme talent…extinguished too soon. How long are some of these guys going to keep it at the edge….especially some of the guys who’ve already won championships?

    Which brings up another issues…Casey will be having his first child….It will remain to be seen what kind of effect that will have on his riding. Colin Edwards actually got faster after kids but I would say he is an extreme exception. The vast majority begin thinking of the consequences of fatherhood and the possibility of not being there to raise their children. The stress on the marriage and family of the travel and needed focus to perform at that level. Again, once you’ve won several championships and have nothing to prove anymore, when your bank account is brimming and that breakneck pace isn’t so appealing anymore….what do you use to motivate yourself to remain in the game?
    . Honda spent a lot to get that championship, 4 factory bikes (Stoner, Pedrosa, Divisioso, Simoncelli) In the end, they got a single 800cc championship through all those years. Kind of funny that they were the ones who were instrumental in getting it enacted, yet to have success when they had to stack the field considerably to achieve it.

    I would also say that Yamaha put their development cycle on a slow burner this season. Certainly there were improvements to the M1 over the season but I doubt the full efforts of the factory were at hand with the natural disaster issues going on in Japan. I see Yamaha as the underdog to some extent but their excellence in engineering and making the bike handle well are key issues. I think the increased displacement issue as making the playing field a bit more level next year. I see their two riders having far more HEART than I have seen from Casey. Recall back at Laguna this year, yes, Casey won. Lorenzo had to practically be carried to the bike after a nasty high side in qualifying the day before. He went on to lead the vast majority of the race on a clearly inferiorly powered motorcycle. That showed tons of heart to me. Again at the last race, Ben Spies…riding his race, going to the front….only to have the Honda motor by on HORSEPOWER ALONE. That’ll put some “stick in your craw”. I know for certain we haven’t seen all that Ben Spies has. He is smart, he has talent in spades and he is slowly but surely taking the measure of MOTO GP. He has heart too. Hopefully he will get hungrier over the winter.

    I’ll be subscribed to MOTOGP again this year like years past for the story to unfold.

  12. Skuffy says:

    Wow – some great feedback from everyone…. Certainly has me thinking. OK, here are my humble thoughts.

    BIKE:
    Significant difference between the 800 and the 1000. The performance of the 1000 will be able to rectify deficits from larger riders such as Spies, Hayden, Rossi, etc…. These bikes will have a significant amount of “rear wheel steering” and favour those who come up from the Supers and the Old 500cc glory days – including the brutal 990′s.

    RIDERS:
    Rossi – Really has something to prove now. I believe the brute power from the Ducati will favour his agressive style of riding more than it will Stoner. This is the make or break year for Rossi. Either win or go out in a blaxe of glory
    Hayden – Proved himself with the larger bikes and confesed numerous times his style of riding suits the bigger capacity bikes.
    Lorenzo – Like Rossi, alot to prove. Needs to show his victory was not a fluke
    Stoner – He won and then lost and then won again. Stoner needs to string a back to back to be able to claim dominance. This year was littered with injuries and crashes and new bikes (in the case of Rossi) so some might think he had a slightly easier way of things.
    Pedrosa – Not sure….. I think he will be the rider that ends MotoGP with “almost there”.
    Spies – Dark horse. His raw talent and agreesion might come through.

    Anyway, just my thoughts. Dont flame me too much :)

  13. Sydneysider says:

    Do favourites ever win? Other than the Rossi or Doohan domination days, when did a favourite actually win the championship? I dont remember it ever happening. Lorenzo wasnt favourite in 2010, and neither was Stoner this year (surely everyone thought Lorenzo was).

    My point being- reading above most feel Stoner will win the 2012 championship, but favourites never seem to win these days. Hopefully I am wrong.

  14. Martin says:

    People asked the same question about Lorenzo after his dominating title win, but Stoner found the few seconds of difference this year and that’s all it took. The way I see it, the only truly consistent winner in the field, Rossi, will again spend the year trying to get his equipment working, and that leaves it wide open for the any of this year’s top 5.

    • mark says:

      I think the Honda machine made some difference as well against both Yamahas, but it was still mostly Stoner’s riding.

  15. mxs says:

    Nope. Not Stoner on factory Honda. Maybe if they put him on CRT Honda with CBR1000 motor ….

    I assume you were asking about beating him in overall GP championship. Surely someone will beat him in a race or two.

  16. Pete says:

    Stoner is now the complete package. And the peeps here going on about the electronics…remember this. Stoner uses less than everyone else. It’d only be worse for them all if they were on the old 500 smokers. Only injury will prevent him from doing another job on the rest. Stoner could’ve won on the Yamaha or the Suzuki for that matter.

  17. kuans says:

    stoner could win without the best motorcycle, but Jorge can do it too. Ben it’s just too far right now. Let’s see what’s going on in winter test…

    • Tim says:

      Stoner may be able to win a title without the best motorcycle, but I’ve yet to see him do it. The Ducati he won the championship on was on steroids compared to the other bikes that year, and the Honda was was on steroids squared this year.

      I’m not taking away from Stoner’s riding ability. I definitely rate him as one of the two top riders. For me it is a toss up whether he or Lorenzo is the top guy right now, but Stoners two championships came on bikes that dominated with top end speed. More impressive to me was his non championship years with Ducati when he had lesser bikes and was often competitive anyway.

  18. Jeremy in TX says:

    The electronics will take care of the trickiest stuff on the 1000s just as they did on the 800s. The vast majority of the challenges that more powerful 1000s will bring are the exact things that the electronic control systems were designed to manage. I wouldn’t expect very different results from the 800 experiment.

  19. Vroooom says:

    Stoner is the odds on favorite, but as others have said, Spies and Lorenzo should give him a run for his money. Ducati is used to making 1000cc race bikes, so I’d expect a better effort from them and Rossi, though their WSBK winning bike is larger displacement. I’m certainly hoping for a more competitive year, that last race of the year was fun with Stoner and Spies mixing it up.

  20. Chirapodist says:

    Stoner is a great rider. Honda had a great 800cc bike this year. Next year’s 1000cc bike will surely benefit from existing technical advantages. While the other marques are playing catch-up, Honda has more time for refinement and innovation.

    Perhaps the question is “Who can beat Stoner?” Could it be Ducati? It would seem that another Rossi Miracle is unlikely. Pedrosa? Again, that would be an uphill battle given last year’s results. Yamaha? As a fan of Ben Spies, I’d certainly like to see that happen. And Jorge is a very difficult rider to beat. If the Yamaha bike can lessen the performance gap, Stoner might have a real battle on his hands.

  21. Luis Gallur says:

    Rumour has it that Stoner uses very little electronic intervention . His throttle control on telemetry is better suited to his style than the computer . Honda’s engineers concede that he is quite different to any other rider on the newer generation of bike . I would say he would be more suited to the 1000 format where loss of traction and wheel spin are going to be even greater this year .

  22. Agent55 says:

    You can bet he will have a much tougher time next season, Yamaha won’t have a power/acceleration deficit, Ducati will have a proper bike (hopefully it’s ‘proper’ enough) and at least 3 riders capable of beating Stoner will on competitive bikes. Stoner is NOT Doohan, Rossi wouldn’t have been able to mentally-squash Doohan the way he has Stoner in the past.

    • Dave says:

      Key word: “Past”. Stoner just turned 26. I don’t think anyone can shake his confidence without beating him several times consecutively, which I also don’t see happening. I think he’s every bit as good as Doohan was and he competes in a deeper talent pool. Remember, he was dominant on a bike that nobody else seems to be able to ride well. Now he has arguably the best bike.

    • Pete says:

      I think you’re kidding yourself regarding Rossi “mentally squashing” Stoner. He skittled him last year and Stoner picked himself up and SQUASHED everyone all season.

  23. Norm G. says:

    Q: “Can Anyone Beat Stoner in 2012?”

    A: No…

    • Bob says:

      Simple answer but undoubtedly the correct one. He’s the best at the high corner speed style of riding and probably the most competent at controlling a slide through a corner too. Those 1000 fps videos are the proof. He has also adapted to electronic controls better than anyone else. He has the right combination of tools to handle the 1000.

  24. Stinky says:

    I don’t see anything derailing Stoner except injuries or DNFs. The rest will win a race or 3 along the way. I don’t see an electronic 1000 being that much different than an electronic 800.

    • Bob says:

      “I don’t see an electronic 1000 being that much different than an electronic 800. ”

      I agree with this. The fact that there a handful of riders who have competed on 500 smokers and the 990 means nothing anymore. I don’t think Hayden and Spies will feel more at home on the 1000. These are not superbikes. The guys who have truly become “one” with the electronic bikes and put their trust in those silicon chips will still be the ones winning on the 1000. They will ride the same as the 800, though will require a little more effort to flick. But i do think the TC will be less effective trying to tame the extra power. There may indeed be a little more sliding but it won’t be like the 500s and 990s ala Garry McCoy. It will still be a game of corner speed and electronic trust.

  25. Gutterslob says:

    Stoner’s still the favourite but (provided they have properly sorted machinery under em) Spies, Lorenzo and Rossi should give some competition. Don’t think Pedrosa and Dovi have what it takes for a 1000cc machine, but you never know. Hayden might surprise a few.

    MotoGP still needs more bikes…. and Bayliss!!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “provided they have properly sorted machinery under em”

      a forgone conclusion this. honda will “buy” themselves the first championship in the 2nd 1000cc era. not to take anything away from the talent of stoner and the boffins, but the bigger picture for 2012 once again sees them with car-side cash, durable main sponsor cash, moto2 engine cash, and now 2 less works bikes to focus on. no other effort comes close to this kind of stability. ezpelata’s threat of all CRT is looking more palatable by the day.

      • Gutterslob says:

        This has actually got me thinking if motorcycle racing would be better off if they just scrapped the prototype classes altogether. I mean, how much faster is a GP bike compared to a WSBK machine… less than 4sec a lap?

        Scrap GP prototype rules, give homologated SBK bikes carbon brakes, but maintain that they must use production bike derived frames and engines (tuned, of course), spec tyres and cost control. Oh, and no displacement disparity, please (lookin at you, V-twin Ducs)…

        Pretty sure we’d easily have a 30 bike grid again, plus we’d probably get tricker road-going versions.

        The CRT rule does seem pretty tempting, I must say. I’d love to see a day where the manufacturers just leased engines and a grid made up entirely of privateer teams built the bikes around em. Like the golden days of F1 (sans Ferrari).

      • MGNorge says:

        Don’t forget lawnmower, snowblower and generator cash too! Gees, I think Honda has more than enough motorcycle cash to fund those activities.

        Besides they have a very large corporate drain on funds, getting their HondaJet to market.

  26. J.T. says:

    No one can touch Stoner…he finished on the podium in every race except one which wasn’t his fault.

  27. Steve D says:

    I think Ben Spies might be ready to take the jump up. Give him an equally matched bike and lets see what happens.

  28. x-planer says:

    Spies, Lorenzo, Dovisioso, Pedrosa, will be the main guys to challenge. Ducati/Hayden/Rossi will need to transform their effort which it looks like they’ll do. Yam has pulled out of WSBK so maybe they’ll focus on MotoGP.

    Should be a fun year with the CRT’s and all.

  29. Ray says:

    I think that he will have trouble in 2012. The 1000cc bikes will have a tendency to slide around corners. I know that he is an old dirt tracker, but I think it will favor the guys that rode the 500cc and early 990cc bikes as their riding style is already adapted to that power band. The riders that have come up through the 250cc ranks and world superbike ranks will have a lot of trouble as it will require a drastic change in their riding style ergo Lorentho, Spies, Pedrosa, and the younger riders will have a lot of trouble when it comes race time.

    • chris says:

      You didn’t see him ride the ducati then, he wasn’t just a old dirt tracker, he won 70 titles , he likes it more sideways than anyone else

    • Pete says:

      Have you not seen Stoner going through the fastest corner in the world (T3 at Phillip Island) at 240kph on the lockstops? No one slides a bike more, or at higher speeds than Stoner.

      • Ray says:

        That is on an 800cc bike where the electronics were very good. All the riders have said in initial testing that the bike is too much for the electronics and it will be more rider control which it should be. Did you see him on the 990 cc bikes, he sucked.

        • chris says:

          what do you mean he sucked on a 990, i think he got a pole and a close second on a true satellite bike, no one has done that for years

          • Ray says:

            Even the sun shins on a dogs butt every once in a while. He had one good race result and on good qualifying result. The rest of his season was a nightmare with crashes more than race finished.

        • Pete says:

          He’ll do exactly the same on the Thou. And Stoner uses far less in the way of electronic aids than anyone else out there.

  30. craigj says:

    Stoner will have lots of competition. I can’t believe that Yamaha is going to take last year’s results without a better effort this year, so count in both Lorenzo and Spies. Ducati can’t get any worse (can they?), and Hayden was better on the 1000′s, so while they won’t be championship contenders Hayden and Rossi should get some podiums. The biggest competition for Stoner is going to be the guys riding the same bike as him though. He remains the rider to beat for the championship.

    The one thing you can be sure of is that Suzuki, and everyone else on hopped up Superbikes, doesn’t stand a chance.

  31. pete Rasmussen says:

    Not a lot of change from this year I guess except maybe Rossi will have a competitive bike. I hope so as it would be a great fight, and with Rossi it isn’t a gentlemans fight.

    • Simmy says:

      Stoner has always been a bit of a mental midget. He will be a new poppa in 2012 and won’t stay focused. Lorenzo or Spies will be champ in 2012.

  32. Delmartian says:

    Did they ever figure out what was ailing Stoner during most of the 2008 season, the year following his first world championship in 2007 ?

  33. nobby says:

    Casey is now the ultimate professional. Extremely cool and calculating. Very fast. As long as he has input into the Honda (and why wouldn’t he)Casey will be a threat to win MotoGP World Championship number three. Sure, others will be fast and I’m sure the likes of Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Spies will be out to knock him off. We should not discount Valentino either, IMO, the best rider I’ve seen, since Doohan. But, I think (and hope) #27 is #1 again this year. (Then again, being an Aussie, I’m a bit biased!!!)

  34. Sean says:

    Maybe Pedrosa? Stoner was so dominate this year it’s hard to imagine anyone else making a serious run at the title but you never know, especially with the move to the big bikes next year. With Honda spending so much on MotoGP I think odds are someone from their camp will win in 2012. It’s such a tragedy we lost Simoncelli last year. I’m convinced he would have been in the hunt on the 1,000cc machines.

  35. Pablo says:

    If Honda give Stoner a competitive bike it is hard to see him not consistantly winning races. Sure he will have some competition from the usual names, Spies, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, but factor in his dominance in 2011, his raw skill, talent and motivation a bike with more HP, and a hot wife and it hard to see him loosing.
    Having a new baby may however be the one thing that slows him down, having a kid that screems and deprives him of sleep may be the one thing that brings him unstuck…