The fastest rider at all three MotoGP tests this year, Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner looks to be in a strong position to challenge Valentino Rossi for the premier class crown.
Casey Stoner’s goal this year is clear. He aims to reclaim the MotoGP title from Valentino Rossi having seen the Italian run away with the championship in 2008, as the Australian endured an inconsistent campaign and his 2007 title slipped from his grasp.
If the signs of the 2009 preseason are anything to go by then Stoner will be Rossi’s main challenger this year and the Australian was understandably upbeat after wrapping up another successful weekend at Jerez on Sunday.
The winner of the BMW M Award at the Spanish circuit for the second year running, triumphing at a venue where he finished 11th in last season’s race and fifth in 2007, said about his Sunday achievement, "We need to replicate this for the race and try to get a better grid position. We have never had a very good starting position here and the races have gone worse from there. So now I think if we can perform reasonably well here on the race weekend we can get close enough to a podium position."
Given the opportunity to assess his overall level of competitiveness before the start of the season, Stoner remarked, "We know what we are capable of. We are just working and working to get the bike at a reasonable level with the base setting before the start of the season. Last year we were just so far behind and I was riding too hard to keep up. We had problems and we don’t want that to happen again."
When asked whether he thought he could have done any more during the 2009 preseason, given that he has been the fastest rider in the three MotoGP tests in Malaysia, Qatar and Spain but has not performed a race simulation since his wrist surgery last year, Stoner replied somewhat cryptically, "Everybody is always talking about long runs and long distances and when the time is right I can do it."
"Considering we are all on the same tyres I don’t see why we have to do long runs to get a competitive edge. When you understand that the setting is right then you can do a long run, but I don’t see the point when the setting is not perfect."