Cecchinello on Stoner's title ambitions and future
Safilo Carrera – LCR's Lucio Cecchinello is enjoying one of his most successful seasons as a team manager, with Casey Stoner emerging as the man on the move in the second half of the 250cc World Championship campaign. The Aussie appears as a strong title contender after taking two consecutive wins in Malaysia and Qatar and now has three rounds remaining to try and snatch the quarter litre class crown from Spanish foe Dani Pedrosa. Ahead of a gruelling end of season, motogp.com caught up with Cecchinello.
Q: Were you surprised by Casey's performances following his comeback to the 250cc class?
A: We always knew that Casey had great potential and we were confident that he could fight for podiums, but we never thought that he would be fighting for the title with three Grands Prix left. What's more, it was Pedrosa, Porto and de Puniet who were touted as title favourites.
Q: As a team manager and a former rider, how do you rate Casey? What are his strong points?
A: In our sport, I think that determination and concentration are the two main elements that makes difference between a Champion and other riders – and Casey has plenty of that. He's very young and has a strong personality. When it comes to technique and riding, Casey has a secret that makes his style different and allows him always to be very quick, but I won't go into that!
Q: Following his back-to-back wins at Sepang and Losail, what do you think of his chances of clinching the title?
A: Pedrosa is a very good rider and he's backed by a good team. He has a 26 points lead on Casey and there are three rounds left and 75 points up for grabs. So I'd say he has a one in three chance. The LCR team is doing everything possible to give Casey everything he needs to beat Pedrosa in the next few races. The Phillip Island track should be good for us, it's also Casey's home round. Turkey will be new for everybody, so we'll see and the finale is in Valencia which might be better for Pedrosa. Now Casey is the one trying to catch up and he'll go out on the track as the hunter, not the hunted…
Q: Do you think Pedrosa is feeling more pressure after Casey's recent results?
A: Pedrosa's crash in Malaysia wasn't anything unusual, that's part of our sport as happened earlier this season to Casey in Jerez. Making a mistake at some point during the season is normal. Anyway, according to medical reports, Pedrosa wasn't fully fit, and that could have made him a bit nervous. Pedrosa is aware of his physical limitations and of the potential shown by his rival.
Q: What about the future and 2006?
A: Casey has a contract with the LCR team for next season, but we had agreed on a minimum fee release clause so now it's like he's on the 250cc and MotoGP market. He would prefer to move up to MotoGP and has had offers from various teams. As we have a very open and friendly relationship, I'm aware of the offers he's had. On my side, I'm doing everything I can to retain him and I'm talking with our sponsor to see what the LCR team can do in 2006, be it with Casey on a MotoGP bike or in 250cc with Aprilia and another rider.