By Helen Losciuto
|Photo: Harry Lloyd|
It is a sad state of affairs that every time we see the news there is more tragedy and controversy. It seems to make my worry over MotoGP’s future seem somewhat irrelevant and insignificant, but the truth is that it this passion and commitment to a sport or an athlete that makes us human. Like so many other we writers’ have suggested before, it is this passion for sports that in some form have replaced the former clan and county rivalry etc. and although I would love to say war, we all know that not to be true.
Before I get too political or theological, I think we need to focus on the issue at hand, how is the void that Casey Stoner’s absence has created, going to be filled?
I know many people think that Rossi back on the Yamaha will bring new tighter and better fighting or that Marc Marquez riding Casey’s bike will fill in the space, but i think one thing has been greatly overlooked…
Casey Stoner has been criticized his entire racing life for his attitude towards media, promo work and for being honest, brutally honest, but when you look at there individual riders in the MotoGP paddock, he is unique, a rider like no other, in every sense of the word! His skill, speed and talent are unmatched, as the last 2 years have undeniably been proven, but more so his ‘persona’.
No other rider was more vocal against Rossi.
No other rider was so blunt about the bike he was riding or the conditions of the track.
No other rider made more of a statement when on the track than Casey – think 2007, 2009 and his “Mystery Illness” and the comeback he made…
Who in the now current field will be able to fill in such a hole? So many people loved to hate Casey, they called him a moaner – this is where his honesty was misunderstood. Who are they going to love to hate now?
Lorenzo? Many people have disliked him in the past, especially with his victory winning antics as he battled against Rossi, but he is a much calmer person now, he has settled, matured even. He rides with a consistency perviously not seen before, but it was Casey’s backing it in and sliding the rear as he rode round corners etc that made his riding so awesome to watch. Lorenzo is technically perfect, pulling off lap after lap of times within thousandths of each other. A great achievement and a very special talent, but let’s be honest – somewhat dull as a viewer.
Who are the Rossi lovers going to boo as they walk on stage? Casey copped so much booing from crowds, its no wonder he hasn’t got that much time for the crowd! So who will they boo now?
Lorenzo has matured and is No. 1 at Yamaha and there will be no wall between him & the 9 time champion, so there is little ammunition for these fans to get their knickers in a knot over? Maybe more will happen later in the year but unless there is some really dramatic racing like in Motegi of 2009, which I honestly think Rossi will be more capable of next year.
When considering the rest of the paddock, all of the riders come across so nicely, so likeable, so placid. Pedrosa has rarely said anything controversial, let alone had any opinion on anything! Ben Spies is quiet and a very calm person, someone who doesn’t want to get involved, Dovi? Again, too nice and willing to please…
Let’s take a look at the new riders and CRT riders… Edwards is a character but his humor and antics will rarely be seen on track as he languishes at the bottom of the field, Espargaro and De Puniet are very pleasing to the media and again, not exactly controversial personalities!
So therefore the hole in which Casey has left, will need to be filled in every way shape and form by Marc Marquez. Pressure much? Fill the space for riding technique, style and thrill factor, fill the space in the media with brutal honesty and controversy, fill the space of the character the fans love to hate and hate to love!
Marc Marquez is riding for Honda and I think that history has shown that they prefer calmer more quieter riders who go out and do the job and please the big bosses. It is true that Marco Simoncelli did not fill that mould – but he was riding for San Carlo Gresini – not a factory bike in the sense of sponsorship and even then after the Simoncelli/Pedrosa incident it was clear that he was ordered to calm it down.
SO… where does that leave me?
Depressed… I miss Casey already! Just knowing that he won’t be riding brings a wave of disappointment over me and sadness, the sport has lost an incredible asset, one I think that they will not truly appreciate until later in the year. I estimate a total weekend attendance at the 2013 Phillip Island round to be half of race days attendance of 2012. I have to be honest, I doubt I will go, and I have been going since 06 when Casey rode for LCR!
I hope and pray that Marquez will be able to fill some of the void Stoner has left. No one will ever replace him or replicate his racing…
Perhaps instead of filling the void, someone like Marquez can shape and mould the void into his own space within the GP Paddock.
One can only wait…