When Casey Stoner dropped down the ranks from second to seventh in the early stages of the MotoGP race at the Grand Prix de France on Sunday it was obvious for all to see that he clearly had a problem onboard his Desmosedici GP9.
The Australian star cited a lack of grip for his woes with wet tyres on the drying race surface but he had to play it safe and only switch onto slicks when the track was dry enough.
World Champion Valentino Rossi was caught out by changing too early and Stoner was initially relieved to make the switch midway through the race, only to find a problem with his steering damper on his second bike which cost him time in the dry part of the race.
He managed to fix the problem himself and overtook compatriot Chris Vermeulen for fifth place with ten laps to go and stay in fifth place until the end, picking up up eleven crucial points to put him level in the championship with Rossi on 65 points – one behind Sunday’s racewinner Jorge Lorenzo.
Casey Stoner Speaks…
"I’m pretty disappointed because I don’t think we realised our potential at all on Sunday," Stoner reflected. "The wet bike we started with had a big problem and I couldn’t find any traction from the warm-up lap. I never felt comfortable and I was losing a lot of time but it still wasn’t dry enough to come in for slick tyres."
He continued, "Then when I switched over my other bike had a problem with the steering damper and after four laps I had to take my hand off the gas coming down the straight to fix it. After that I felt much better, the bike was more comfortable and I was able to ride to my limit. I think if it wasn’t for that we would have been able to battle for the podium today but unfortunately these things happen sometimes and we just have to hope things work out better next time."
With his thoughts already shifting to round five in less than two week’s time, Stoner concluded, "I now really look forward to Mugello, one of my favourite tracks. I‘ve got some good results there and I feel we have a bit better package this year compared to the last one so hopefully we should be able to fight at the front."