After spectacularly guiding his Desmosedici GP9 to the top step of the podium in his home Grand Prix on Sunday, Casey Stoner heads to Malaysia this weekend for what promises to be the ultimate test of his physical condition. Whist heavy rain is never far beyond the horizon at Sepang, intense heat and humidity are always guaranteed and it is a test of endurance for the riders out on track and the mechanics in the team garage. The Australian, who was in fine physical condition following the race at Phillip Island, took victory at Sepang in 2007 and is confident of being in the right shape to work well towards this Sunday’s race and towards next season when practice gets underway on Friday.
Nicky Hayden suffered torrid luck in Australia but if there is one rider on the grid who never gives up and always looks to the future it is the American. For that reason, instead of reflecting on the memory of a first corner incident that saw his race ruined at Phillip Island he prefers to concentrate on the good work he did with his mechanics at that race and focus on producing more of the same in Malaysia.
CASEY STONER Speaks… (3rd in the championship on 195 points)
"In the past I used to like racing in the heat but last year in Malaysia I was racing with a wrist injury and I’ve had the physical problems everybody knows about so I suppose it’s a combination of factors that I have suffered with in recent hot races. But at Phillip Island things went so well from a physical point of view that I feel reasonably confident. It will definitely be a tough race as being fast and consistent in those conditions is always difficult regardless. It is not easy to find the perfect set-up here but that’s always been the case and with every day that passes I feel stronger and more confident that I can be competitive in both of the two races that remain. The track has become a little… boring for me I suppose you could say – just because we have done so many laps here in testing – but the races are usually fun and I like the place. It has a kind of holiday feel to it and it puts you in a good mood."
NICKY HAYDEN Speaks… (14th in the championship on 82 points)
"I wouldn’t say that Malaysia is one of my favourite circuits and it’s almost as if I’ve got ownership on fourth place there because I finished in that position five times out of six! Having said that if I were to manage fourth place this year I’d probably be more than happy. We’ve arrived here on the back of a disappointing weekend in terms of what might have been but that’s over now and we have to look forward. I’m expecting the usual heat – having suffered from the cold in Australia it will be the opposite here – but it will be interesting to get back on track at a place we have tested at. Sepang is one of the circuits where I have ridden the bike the most, back in January, and we have made a lot of progress since then. Fortunately I’m faster now so it will be interesting to see where we’re at."
LIVIO SUPPO Speaks… MotoGP Project Director
"We’re coming on the back of a really positive Grand Prix for us in which Casey was able to ride as he knows and as he likes, and most importantly having fun. Even though he was lacking a little grip the bike was very competitive and Casey made the most of it to put on a real show. In Malaysia we’re going to come up against temperatures that are very different to Phillip Island and it will be another test of his condition. At the moment he prefers cool conditions but in the past the heat has never bothered him and in fact in 2007 he won! As far as Nicky is concerned, we know that despite the disappointment of his race being ended so quickly and by something that wasn’t his fault, especially following all the progress made last weekend, his positive character and determination will see him giving his maximum once again from Friday onwards."
Sepang hosted a Grand Prix for the first time in April 1999, with races in Malaysia having initially taken place at Shah Alam and Johor. A much loved venue for the teams and riders, the circuit is located in the thick of dense tropical forest, a short drive away from the Kuala Lumpur International airport, and has a modern infrastructure with good safety features. The track is the longest on the World Championship and one of the widest, reaching 16 metres, featuring a good mix of corners that put the machines and riders to the test. Intense heat and humidity, with the constant threat of torrential rain, increase the challenge for the riders, teams and anybody else in pit-lane! In fact, one such downpour in 2006 saw qualifying cancelled for all three classes and grid positions were decided by the free practice classification.
SEPANG CIRCUIT RECORDS
Circuit Record: Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2007), 2’02.108 – 163.566 Km/h
Best Pole: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha – 2006), 2’00.605 – 165.605 Km/h
Circuit Length: 5.548 km
MotoGP Race 2009: 21 laps (116.508 km)
MotoGP 2009 Timetable: 0900h Central Europe Time; 15:00h local time
Podium 2008: 1st Valentino Rossi, 2nd Dani Pedrosa, 3rd Andrea Dovizioso
Pole 2008: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2008), 2’01.548 – 164.320 Km/h
DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM’S BEST RESULTS AT SEPANG
2008: 6th (Stoner)
2007: 1st (Stoner)
2006: 2nd (Capirossi)
2005: 1st (Capirossi)
2004: 6th (Capirossi)
2003: 6th (Capirossi)
DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM – RIDER INFO
Age: 24 (Born 16th October 1985 in Southport, Queensland, Australia)
Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP9
GP Appearances: 125 (64xMotoGP, 31×250, 30×125)
GP Victories: 26 (19xMotoGP, 5×250, 2×125)
First GP victory: Valencia, 2003 (125)
First GP: Great Britain, 2001 (125)
Pole positions: 21 (17xMotoGP, 2×250, 2×125)
First pole position: Italy, 2003 (125)
World Titles: 1 (MotoGP, 2007)
Stoner’s MotoGP track record at Sepang:
2008: Grid: 7th. Race: 6th
2007: Grid: 2nd. Race: 1st
2006: Grid: 10th. Race: 8th