Duncan Bishop

  • Stoner’s retirement plan doesn’t surprise

    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Casey Stoner retirement tour. The reigning MotoGP world champion's Thursday bombshell rocked the paddock and sent the silly season into overdrive — enough, indeed, to escalate its status to 'certifiable season'. All that, and we are only in May, four races into the current campaign.

    For a man who came into MotoGP at the last minute in 2006 through Lucio Cecchinello's rescue project when Sito Pons' team plans fell through, Stoner has become one of the quickest in making decisions once the season is underway. Since joining Ducati in 2007 he has been in a

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  • Vermeulen knows how to progress a bikeIn every walk of life, there are some people who it is almost impossible to dislike. In motorsport - where everyone clashes with everyone else on track at some stage in their career - rubbing people up the wrong way is an occupational hazard. If you haven't annoyed someone, then you probably aren't going fast enough.

    It's nice, then, to see one of racing's good guys returning for a cameo this coming weekend. Chris Vermeulen comes in for the Forward Racing team in place of the injured Colin Edwards, himself highly popular, at the American's request, as the first replacement rider of the 2012

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  • Podium dominance demands more from Spies

    New ground was broken at what is likely to be the final Portuguese Grand Prix for the foreseeable future, but there was still an air of predictability about proceedings.

    It shouldn't have been easy to call, however, given that we are watching a season of unprecedented events unfold.

    All three of the opening races of the 2012 season have seen first-time winners at the circuits, for the first time in the MotoGP era since 2004. That was when Valentino Rossi won in South Africa (he had already been victorious at Welkom, but in the 500cc class) and Sete Gibernau triumphed in Spain and France. So

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  • A moderately exciting race

    Cal Crutchlow at the Spanish GP

    If you're looking for excitement, then moderation is never normally the way to go. Calling it a night after two weak American ales, leaving half of an obscenely-sized pizza for the morning and other such sensible ideas are just that little bit less fun than unadulterated excess.

    This past weekend at Jerez, a bit of middle ground was just the ticket.

    Ask a rider what conditions they prefer, and they will all opt for a dry track with warm temperatures. The second choice - if really pushed - is a fully wet race. You won't hear anyone saying: "It would be excellent if it could rain for a little

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  • More Spanish GPs like 2005, please

    The final-lap battle in 2005All indications point to a stay of execution for the Circuito de Jerez. Laughing in the face of financial difficulties, declining attendance and an unsustainable business model, the track that refused to go away is sticking around for a little longer yet.

    That is by no means a bad thing, either. There have been some classic races down in southern Spain and, at the end of the day, fans prefer good racing over sound economic practice every time. One race in particular stands out.

    Picture the scene in 2005: reigning world champion Valentino Rossi can do no wrong. A record breaker who has achieved

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  • Fenati shows Italy is not finito just yet

    Consider this column's hands held up.

    Towards the end of last season, with Valentino Rossi struggling to get to grips with the Ducati Desmosedici GP11/11.5, Andrea Dovizioso being given the boot by Honda and the Spanish armada continuing to sail to victory in the lower cylinder classes, I questioned when the next Italian starlet was going to appear on the scene.

    It appears as though the answer has arrived sooner rather than later, with the arrival of Romano Fenati to Grand Prix motorcycle racing. Like a man in orthopaedic shoes, I stand corrected.

    The teenager's second place in the inaugural

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  • Lorenzo’s Qatar Sheikh-up

    As season starts go, that was one of the better ones for the spectator.  Three decent races and an exciting premier class contest to get our teeth into on a Sunday night meant that MotoGP was back with a bang for 2012, answering questions and — in true racing style - raising plenty more.

    A rider can play their cards close to their chest during testing. False timing markers, soft tyres, hard tyres, no race simulations, hot laps, press release hot air and sandbagging can all be used to disguise the reality of each rider's situation. Qatar might be a unique event, but there are no secrets

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  • Can a Qatar hero stop Stoner’s roll?

    Casey Stoner on his way to victory at Qatar in 2011You can guarantee three things when the Qatar Grand Prix comes around:

    1) The official start of the MotoGP season, often followed by a short break in the calendar.

    2) Liberal use of the headlines 'Arabian Nights' (a pun I felt pretty clever about coining back at the 2006 streetbike test) and 'Night Riders' (the more PC replacement from the press release factory) .

    3) Casey Stoner will at some point be at the head of the MotoGP race.

    There are few riders who have such affinity with a track as Stoner does at Losail, with his four wins in the last five seasons. There is Valentino Rossi's

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  • Thoughts from the last stop of pre-season testing

    The pre-season is now officially over. We're in MotoGP limbo for two weeks while we await the Qatar Grand Prix, at our leisure to pore over the Jerez timesheets and try to predict how things will pan out at the season opener on April 8th.

    Casey Stoner is still undoubtedly the fastest man in MotoGP —in particular over a short stint. Only a couple of things stand out about the reigning world champion's winter besides his consistent quickness.

    Firstly, he never ran a race simulation. His reasons for not doing so have been explained before and the engineers were obviously happy to indulge the

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  • BMW should approach MotoGP with caution

    Having a factory team is not all it's cracked up to beIn quiet weeks free from racing, team line-up changes and testing, off-track chatter is picked up and transmitted like a fly buzzing around a megaphone. The exaggerated hum in the lead-up to the official test at Jerez came from BMW Motorrad president Hendrik von Kuenheim, who told the official MotoGP website that the German brand was still exploring the possibility of a full-scale grand prix operation in the future.

    Now, a lot can change in the space of a year - but the fact is that joining the premier class as a factory team comes with paradoxes: being an official team is as elitist as ever,

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