Christina Bulpett |
Image: GeeBee Pictures
Double champion Casey Stoner returned to the Portimao MotoGP paddock on Friday while Ducati quickly put the legend’s skills to use.
After meeting up with fellow Australian Jack Miller on Thursday, a few jokes led the former Ducati winner to take to the track on Friday to help line up the factory team, and with obvious success.
Pecco Bagnaia and Jack Miller finished the first day of training on Friday in second and third overall, with the newly crowned MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo taking the lead with his penultimate lap of 1: 39.390.
“I had a spotter on the track today, which was nice for a while,” Miller said on Friday afternoon.
“You really can’t ask for anything better than him, I don’t think so. He gave me some tips on what he saw on the track like a spotter does. I think we need to speak to Ducati next year. Let’s see if we can get him on budget to do a few more races!
“We joked a bit with it yesterday and he actually did it,” the Australian continued. “I saw a few different things, gave myself a tip after FP1, I worked on it in FP2 and it was better. He had a few suggestions like any other driver-trainer would, but I think you pay a little more attention when someone tells you what they see on the track, that’s for sure! “
“I met Casey here for the first time yesterday and today he was like our coach,” added Bagnaia. “He was on the right track to see us and it’s nice to hear a different point of view so I guess but he’s not your normal trainer, he’s Casey Stoner! The only one who wins with Ducati. That was definitely great, I really appreciate it and maybe there will be more tomorrow. “
“It’s nice to catch up with him anyway, because I hadn’t seen him in a long time and it was good,” Miller mused. “I think Casey is a legend, what he did in this sport was fantastic. Two-time world champion, multiple race winner, these incredible races, leading from start to finish. He’s been incredibly strong through his career. I hope one day maybe to have the same thing, just one day to even be able to be on the same trophy as him, would be nice. “
“You’ve always been on the sidelines,” Stoner said of Ducati’s prospects.
“You were long on the verge of having the full package and getting the job done, but unfortunately it’s that time again which Ducati rider will be quick on which weekend. We need to see a little more consistency, maybe a bike that is suitable for all tracks. We’ve always had this problem, all manufacturers have good and bad tracks, but yes, with certain styles and certain tracks the Ducati seems to be struggling. So you just need to create a little more consistency and a little, say, simpler package at certain times, but they were always very, very close.
“I think if everything goes in its direction, yes, they can win a championship, but when you have Yamaha, year after year it produces a great package – and I mean, what Yamaha had for a year is quite a lot different “forms of motorsport this year! They keep putting out a package that is very, very difficult to beat. You have Marquez that when he’s fit and healthy on the Honda they’re very hard to beat. So that makes it difficult for them. It’s not just about throwing a couple of bikes out on the track with a pilot who does the job, you need the whole package to work together and that can be difficult at times. “