MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner shrugged off the lingering pain of a back injury he first suffered in Phillip Island last month to dominate the opening day of free practice in Valencia.
Stoner suffered a big practice high-side on home soil and has been plagued by a back injury ever since, even though he won in Phillip Island and the following week in the searing heat in Sepang to take his 2007 victory tally into double figures.
Although still in some discomfort, Stoner showed little sign of the back problem hampering severely on his factory Ducati as he topped the timesheets in both free practice sessions in Spain today.
But he admitted he feared that he might have chipped a bone in his back in the Phillip Island crash.
"That's from Phillip Island and I'm pretty sure I've chipped a bone in my back on the lower left hand side. Every time I touch it hurts; other than that it is fine, " said Stoner, who said he hadn't had X-rays to confirm any damage.
He added: "It's pretty easy to know. If the bone is chipped it will be a very small one and it's just bruising of the bone. My legs and everything work fine but when I hit it on a hard surface it hurts and little bit and it is taking a while to heal. I've had injuries like this before and its no problem."
Stoner admitted he didn't have a trouble free opening day today despite making the ideal start to his bid for an 11th race win in 2007.
"I had few issues at the end of this afternoon's session but nothing to be worried about. We are trying to find a decent set-up to work with the harder tyres because today the conditions weren't perfect. It wasn't very hot and the tyres weren't working at their best so hopefully it warms up and we should be better. If not we'll try a few different settings to make the tyres work in the cooler conditions."
Stoner was in dominant form again today and he is certainly best placed to give advice to former Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, who is expected to complete a few laps in Valencia on Stoner's Ducati in a specially arranged test on Monday.
"I hear he's pretty good on a bike so it will be strange to explain something. But if he has some questions then maybe I can answer them, "said Stoner, who said he would like to have a drive in a Formula One car in the future.
He said: "I'm not ready for this because I've never really driven a car. I've driven karts a lot but not really a car except for Madonna di Campiglio and I wasn't so good (he drove a Fiat Panda on the ice with Loris Capirossi and Kimi Raikkonen). But for sure one this is something I want to do. But maybe I'll wait some years yet and for sure it will be nice to get some advice from Michael."
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