Casey Stoner ended MotoGP's first session on the new Silverstone in second place, and said he thoroughly enjoyed the track layout, except for the bumps.
Q. What do you think of the circuit?
Casey Stoner: This circuit is fantastic, it's amazing. The layout of the circuit is really nice to ride. It's difficult, it's technical, it's fast, it's slow. It's got a bit of everything in there. But unfortunately with these bumps it's making it near on impossible to focus on the track.
You're worried about picking the bike up over bumps, or going into certain corners not too hard because you'll lose the front on a bump. You're not really able to ride the track to its full potential and that's a little disappointing.
I think they've had too much experience with cars, and with cars bumps aren't a big issue. With bikes they're a huge issue, so it's making things very difficult for a fast track to be so bumpy.
Q. Is there a line you can take to avoid the bumps?
CS: I've tried going inside, outside...I've found one corner where I can go inside them. Unless you're running on the curbs...it's probably better on the curbs...
This, Mugello and a couple of other tracks later in the year have suddenly become very bumpy, like Brazil and Welkom used to be. They're starting to become like tracks from 40 years ago when it wasn't such a big issue, the bikes had a hinge in the middle and it was OK. But with the bikes we've got today, it's getting difficult to ride over the bumps.
I watched the slow-mo of myself, Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo] and saw that our bike wasn't really reacting well enough over the bumps, so we just have to try and do a couple of things with suspension to make the bike go over the bumps a little better, but we have to do this without making the suspension softer.
Q. Is the issue with the fork more evident here?
CS: Nothing really to do with it. The problem we had with the fork at the first three races was different. We didn't have that problem at Mugello because we were running the old fork, and we're running the old fork again here.
It's not so much the front suspension; the real problem is the rear also. When we hit a bump, it's very aggressive. We just need to soften everything off a little bit to make it ride over the bumps, but without losing the braking, the turning and the traction. It's a little difficult. We just have to try a few things and work on it.
Q. Is there a key point on the circuit?
CS: There's no real key point, I'd say. Just trying to get your bike set up so the bumps don't make it react too much. If they start reacting too much then you can't really ride at the limit of the track, you just have to ride over the bumps to do the best you can. As soon as you can get the bike to ride over the bumps a little easier, then I think you can make some big improvements in lap times.
Q. Do you remember anything helpful from racing here in the past?
CS: I know Turn 1 [Copse] and Turn 2 [Maggotts] and that's it. And then the last and second-last corner. And that was in 125s, and nine years ago. So I don't remember anything. This is completely new to me.
It's fun to come to a completely new circuit that is fantastic, because new circuits these days are normally designed by computer and really not that great. But here it's quite a lot of fun to ride a circuit that's been designed years ago with the racer in mind, not just passing opportunities for cars or whatever. It's really nice.
Q. So are you staying with the old fork now?
CS: Yeah. We're learning a new track, there's no sense to going and changing something. Even tomorrow, if we are progressing in the way we are, it's OK. When we get to a circuit we know, and we're not changing gearboxes and settings, then maybe we can try and understand. And to be honest, the settings here are going to be so different from a normal track just to try and ride the bumps. We won't get an understanding of whether it's any different or not.
Q. Did you notice any difference not having Valentino Rossi here?
CS: The fans are more polite... When Valentino's around, they love him that much that they hate all the other riders. I've found that the fans who are here are here just to enjoy what they're here for. That's the only difference. I have enough things to worry about at the moment.
Q. How much will times come down by? One or two seconds?
CS: It's difficult to know because there's that much dirt on the track, you don't know if we can scrub it off enough and put some rubber down. Now it's raining again anyway, so probably some more mud coming on. I think it should be down to the 2m04sec for sure, eventually, once everybody gets used to the bumps and gets a reasonable line. Whether they can go faster is to be seen.
Q. Do you have a favorite part of the track?
CS: The new part, actually. When we turn right then into that left, the left corner is unbelievable. If it wasn't followed by a very tight hairpin after that, it would have to be one of the best corners in the world. It's that much fun. You go into the corner with a really fast entry, every lap you think it's too fast, then the corner opens up, so you're able to get straight back onto the gas, get over to the left, it's fourth gear, and if it wasn't a hairpin straight after it would be fourth gear and a lot of fun. And if the last corner wasn't so bumpy it would be a lot of fun.
Q. So will the riders be getting together and saying it should be resurfaced?
CS: Loris [Capirossi] already did because he came around here on a bike, and I'm pretty sure Randy de Puniet's been doing some laps around here on a street bike as well. He shouldn't have been that quick that early... There's no way he was going 'round there with his normal pace...
We're going to have the Safety Commission report tonight and discuss a few things. Track layout safety seems great, it's just the surface really. They need to have a kick up the ass about that. Even the new parts of the track are so bumpy. You'd be able to ride a bicycle around that and understand it's bumpy, so when you're going the speeds we manage to do, it makes things a little different.
Q. Have you seen the top speeds of the Honda? And is that good news for you...?
CS: Well, the only area we reach sixth gear is under the bridge. Maybe they're just getting good exits.
Actually, the gearbox is really hard to get right on this track. It's half gears everywhere because there are that many different types of corner and different speeds. It's going to be hard.