Honda Racing has taken the unprecedented step of publicly apologizing to two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner after the rider’s crash at the Suzuka 8 Hours led to him sustaining a broken right scapula and a fractured left tibia.

In a statement, HRC addressed the controversy surrounding Stoner’s crash, admitting that a stuck throttle on the team’s factory racing bike led to the high-speed crash that sent Stoner straight to the hospital. It was an ignominious end to Stoner’s highly anticipated return to motor racing since his retirement in 2012. The team also admitted that the problem had never “arisen before” and is now in the process of installing a new throttle design that will be used for future endurance races.

Stoner was actually leading the endurance race for HARC-Pro Honda, which was looking to win its third straight Suzuka 8 Hours race, at the time of the crash. Unfortunately for both the rider and the team, the damage sustained by the bike squashed the team’s bid for a three-peat. The Yamaha factory squad ended up taking the chequered flag on the back of sterling rides from Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith, and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, winning the iconic endurance race for the first time since 1996.

The nature of Stoner’s crash was horrific to say the least and while a broken right scapula and a fractured left tibia are nothing to sneeze at, the rider was fortunate to have escaped with more serious injuries.

I wish Casey Stoner all the best in his recovery and I hope that we’ll see him ride again in the future. It would be a shame if his crash at the 8 Hours of Suzuka ends up being the last time we see him in a racing bike.

Continue reading to read more about Honda’s public apology to Casey Stoner.

Why it matters

Teams apologizing to riders for mishaps isn’t an uncommon thing in motor racing. But most of it is done behind-the-scenes, free from any speculation that the media will invariably bring to the table. Most of these “apologies” don’t even hit the wire so nobody’s really the wiser about it.

But this time, Honda Racing ignored an unwritten protocol by issuing a statement that not only included an admission on its part that it messed up, but more importantly, a direct apology to Casey Stoner for the injuries he sustained from the crash.

On one hand, you have to give Honda Racing credit for biting the bullet here. If the throttle did get stuck, then yeah, it’s the team’s fault. That alone already warranted an apology to Stoner. The fact that he also got seriously injured from the crash probably means that the two-time MotoGP champion will be getting a lot of free dinners from Honda.

On the other hand, the public apology made Honda Racing look weak and vulnerable. Trust me, you normally don’t associate those two words with the team, especially after all the success it has had in the motor racing scene the last few years. I think the team would’ve been better off taking the traditional route and apologizing to Stoner behind closed doors. That doesn’t make the apology any less sincere than by issuing a statement to the media and dragging this issue longer than it should.

Stoner’s already hurt and we’re all rooting for him to have a quick recovery. But a public apology isn’t going to make his injuries heal faster either. But with the apology out, I feel like Honda showed a little weakness when it shouldn’t have.

Not that it’s going to make any difference now, but if Honda really does mean what it said in that statement, then let’s al hope we don’t see another episode like this in the future.

What do you think?
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