Monday, July 27


TWO times World MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner is battered and bruised and has broken bones as a result of an electronics glitch that saw the throttle of his Honda CBR1000 Fireblade Superbike stick open during the early stages of this year's Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hour race.

In March, Stoner had agreed to ride for a Honda factory team in the prestigious Japanese race following a MotoGP test session at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.

"It's always been an event I wanted to do and something I was never able to consider when I was racing in MotoGP, due to our busy schedules, so I'm really looking forward to taking part," Stoner said at the time.

Stoner said the CBR1000RR was very different to a MotoGP machine but labelled it a "new challenge and a chance for me to try something new and unlike what I've been used to in my racing.

As a result the 29-year-old Australian tested at Suzuka early in July and helped qualify the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO team Fireblade third fastest in the Top 10 Trial on Saturday with a 2m 06.336s lap.  That put him behind he pole-winning 2m 06.000s lap recorded by MotoGP rider Pol Espargaro on the factory Yamaha YZF-R1 and just a tenth of a second from the second fastest lap recorded by Kawasaki Team Green's Kazuki Watanabe (2m 06.287s).

Stoner was sharing the Honda with World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi, who together had won the previous two Suzuka 8-Hour events.

Twenty-four-year-old Takahashi was the first rider on track on the number 634 Honda and was involved in an exciting battle in the top group.  After 24 laps, and before the first hour was up he was running second when he pitted to hand over to Stoner.

On his first lap out of the pits Stoner had put the Honda into the race lead, then settled into a comfortable pace and was looking forward to the rest of the race.  But his hopes were well and truly dashed after he had only been racing for half an hour.  He exited the second right-hand Degner Corner and was heading for the left-hand hairpin when the throttle stuck open as he was getting on the brakes.  He immediately whipped in the clutch but the extra speed caused by the stuck throttle saw him run wide.  He was still braking when the front tyre hit the trackside grass and he went down hard.

He was taken to the medical centre where it was confirmed he had broken his right scapula (shoulder blade) and fractured his left ankle.

The team had to wait until the end of the race for the bike to be returned so they could examine what caused the accident.  Together with HRC staff, the team checked the machine, and confirmed from the data that the throttle was 26 degrees open before the crash.  It wasn’t clear why this happened and now the bike will be sent to HRC for a full inspection.  HRC will communicate the findings to the media when there is more news.

“I am really disappointed the Suzuka 8-Hour has ended like this," Stoner said after having his left angle and lower leg put in a plaster cast.  "We have done a lot of work over the last few weeks to get accustomed to the bike and the track and work towards a setting that made all of us quite comfortable.  

"We really felt that the race and everything had gone as we planned so far, we were very relaxed and comfortable and making sure we saved the tyres and the fuel to stretch the stint as long as we could.  Unfortunately, we experienced some mechanical trouble as I was going through the corner leading up to the hairpin.  I did not have enough time to engage the clutch and I came in with too much speed, I picked the bike up to try to slow down more but I was heading towards the wall so I decided to lay it over and hit the barrier but unfortunately, they were a lot harder than they looked and we came out of it with a broken bone in the ankle and broken scapula.  

"I want to say thanks to my team-mates Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi – they have done a fantastic job over these weeks and this weekend especially.  And I would also like to thank the team for how much effort everybody has put in.  Their professionalism was outstanding and I really enjoyed working with them.  I am very sorry that we could not achieve the strong result I believe we could have.”

Here's the video footage