Yes, this is a shameless plug, but every time I visit Scott at his office, I admire this print of Casey Stoner that he has hanging on his wall. I am obviously a bit biased when it comes to Scott’s work, as any Asphalt & Rubber reader probably already knows, but his photos have classed-up more than a few MotoGP-related articles here on A&R. I have stared at my fair share of Scott’s photography, but this photo of Casey has always struck me though. If you had to summarize Stoner’s dominance in the 2011 season, and maybe his career in MotoGP overall, I think it can be done in this single-instance that Scott has captured.
People will always have their opinions about Casey Stoner, and many of his detractors put an asterisk next to his MotoGP Championship victory in 2007. Whether Casey was on the right tires, or Rossi was on the wrong ones, the fact remains that Stoner won a championship on a machine that spoke a language that Capirossi, Bayliss, Checa, Gibernau, Melandri, Hayden, and Rossi could not understand. A polarizing figure, sure, but any person capable of truly appreciating the art of riding a MotoGP machine to the limit will recognize the mastery in Stoner’s 2011 season, and possibly his career as a whole.
Finishing off the podium only once, when Rossi’s “ambition exceeded his talent,” Stoner didn’t just ride a consistent Championship, he rode a dominant one. Dragging elbows at will, spinning the rear-wheel down impossible racing lines, and decimating his competition in turn, it is hard to go from Casey’s masterful 2011 season, to the beginning of 2012 where he stunned the paddock and announced his retirement.
Looking at Scott’s photo of Casey at Catalunya, it is hard to imagine that we will soon be running out of examples of this kind of performance on two-wheels. Thankfully we do have moments like this in the public record, and for a fortunate few, the capturing of Casey at his finest can be held everlasting. I was with Scott at Laguna Seca when Stoner signed these prints earlier this season, and even the reigning-World Champion seemed impressed with Scott’s photo — maybe even a bit reminiscent. I think the lucky few who happen to buy one of these limited edition prints will be equally impressed with them as well. Some words from Scott after the jump.
From Scott Jones:
I share many of Jensen’s sentiments about this image, especially as the photograph reflects Casey’s 2011 season and his abilities on a motorcycle. Our archive at Photo.GP contains many images that capture his talent in action, but for me, none of the others will live in my memory more vividly than this one when it comes to showing what the Casey Stoner era was all about.
While many people around the world have enjoyed the B&W version of this shot on their computer screens, this version, an exposure made a split second before the B&W one, has been kept unpublished until now — I wanted from the beginning to bring it to Casey’s fans as a limited edition signed by him. Making that happen was not easy, as even talking to Adrianna about it only got me so far in the process. Casey doesn’t concern himself with what he’s going to sign and when; he has someone else handle that aspect of his professional life.
As we know, he shows up first and foremost to ride and to win. Other things come second, except now for his family, which I think is a big reason why he’s leaving. But now that he is retiring, this image has become that much more of a rarity. With each race weekend that passes, we have fewer opportunities to photograph Casey Stoner and capture in still images what makes him a special rider in the history of Grand Prix racing.
As Jensen said above, Casey has his share of detractors, some of whom will no doubt chime in here with their own explanations for why Casey isn’t as great as some think he is, or by volunteering their opinions about his personality. But one of the things my time in MotoGP has made clear is that you cannot become one of the truly great ones without inspiring your own league of haters, and in a way, the louder they complain about you, the greater a testament to your greatness that noise becomes.
No one bothers to criticize mediocrity for long, after all. So I expect those who appreciate Casey’s talents to appreciate this image and see the beauty in it, and I expect those who begrudge Casey his talents the most to complain the loudest, not only about him but probably also about this photograph for showing how beautiful is the thing they hate.
In the end, whatever you think of the individual, at the moment captured in this image there is only motorcycle racing at its highest form. I was extremely lucky to be at the right place at the right moment to record it with a camera, but the skill and experience it took to do so competently are nothing compared to the skill and experience displayed by the photograph’s subject. I hope that many of you reading this will appreciate the image, and that a few of you will be able to enjoy owning a copy for many years to come.
Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blog, Twitter, & Facebook.
All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.
Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved