Wednesday, January 6

STONER: HONDA "NEVER TOOK FULL ADVANTAGE OF MY POTENTIAL"

Two times world MotoGP champion Marc Marquez felt threatened by the role Casey Stoner maintained with Honda after retiring, the Australian feels.


Stoner retired at the end of 2012 aged just 27, having won one the first and last MotoGP titles in the 800cc era, with Ducati in 2007 and Honda in 2011. Each was a unique achievement.  First, he gave Ducati its first (and only) Grand Prix world crown, and with Honda he gave the Japanese company the 800cc MotoGP title that had eluded it.  It was Honda that had lobbied hardest for the 800cc limit and without Stoner, it probably would never have won that title.

After two years with Honda, Stoner shocked the GP world by announcing his retirement from racing, reportedly turning down a 15 million Euro offer from Honda to continue.  However, he agreed to a role as a part-time test rider with the Japanese giant.

Now, he returns to Ducati in a testing and ambassador role, Stoner feels the Japanese manufacturer did not use him enough, in part to appease Marquez.

"It's not the same," he told Italian weekly Motosprint when asked how the Ducati role would compare to his Honda position.

"At Honda I was just an occasional tester, I did not have any other role and, to tell you the truth, they never took full advantage of my potential.

"I think Marquez and all his entourage felt threatened by me. I don't know why they thought that, but that's my feeling.

"I was at Honda to do some testing, to try new things that could then be transferred to the works riders, so I was there to help Marc.

"But it's also true that the number one rider is the one everyone must follow.

"I have no grudge against Honda. And I have great respect for [HRC vice president Shuhei] Nakamoto. As a matter of fact I'm certain that our relationship has not deteriorated for this and that we'll get on well."

RACE KNOCK-BACK 'CONFUSING'

Stoner publicly pushed for a brief return to MotoGP early in the 2015 season, when Dani Pedrosa was sidelined by an arm injury.

After discussing the prospect of Stoner replacing Pedrosa in America, Argentina and the first Spanish race of the year at Jerez, Honda ultimately elected to use Hiroshi Aoyama.

"At that moment I got a bit confused," Stoner said, "in the sense that I had thought I was precious for Honda, and to have demonstrated that.  When I arrived, in 2011, I won the title immediately, and Honda had not been at the top for several years.

"I felt ready for Austin.  Nakamoto told me he was sorry, but he was taking responsibility for deciding towards a different solution.

"At this point then, I think other people must have put pressure on him in order for me not to race.  Someone did not want to see me race."

Despite having not raced on two wheels since the end of 2012 at the time, Stoner said there was no reason for Honda to have been wary about his performance.

"I knew I had the speed to be able to replace [Pedrosa], at least adequately," he added.

"During testing at Sepang, in February, I ran at a pace that was very close to that of the race. I mean, at a pace good enough to stay with the leaders.


"Basically at Dani's pace, who subsequently won the grand prix in 2015."