Casey Stoner has admitted the condition of his right ankle is getting worse rather than improving as he prepares to try and capture a fairytale farewell victory against the odds in Australia on Sunday.
Stoner is bidding for an unprecedented sixth straight win on home soil in his final Phillip Island MotoGP appearance.
But his hopes of extending his incredible record at the spectacular and super-fast coastal track are under serious threat from the right ankle he badly damaged in a qualifying crash at Indianapolis in mid-August.
Stoner was hoping strength and mobility in the ankle would have improved in Japan and Malaysia recently. But speaking on the eve of his final Phillip Island appearance, he admitted that the condition of the ankle is getting worse.
The 27-year-old was a low-key fifth on his return to action at the Twin Ring Motegi earlier this month and he was a heroic third in a rain-soaked Sepang race in Malaysia last Sunday.
Stoner, who had his favourite Turn 3 at Phillip Island named in his honour at a special ceremony earlier today, told MCN: “It has been swelling up a lot again but I have a lot more pain in it with everything that I do. When I walk I have pain but in the past I could put some weight on it and it wasn’t so bad. But since I’ve been racing in Japan, more or less each day it has been getting worse and worse. They did recommend that I stay off it for a while and only put light weight on it but unfortunately I have to put quite a lot of weight on it and I have to get used to this before I get on a bike.
When I’m on the bike I’m not worried about it, but by the time the session has finished it is giving me a lot of problems and it is not good. When I’m on the bike I’m sure I’ll deal with it, it’s just mainly when I get off the bike that the pain is a lot worse. Therapy doesn’t really help to be honest. The only therapy is to try and get more movement. We’ve got a certain amount but we struggle to get more because I’ve got to wait for everything to heal inside otherwise there’s limitations on all kinds of things.
We just need to be patient with it and see what we can do now. I’m doing everything I can by icing it and taking anti-inflammatory tablets, but none of it seems to be working enough.”
A record crowd is expected to turn up at Phillip Island on Sunday to see Stoner’s last premier class race on home soil, but he said he had no expectations of the result he might be able to achieve.
The Repsol Honda rider, who will retire after next month’s final race in Valencia, added: “It has been built up to be a very big weekend but I am going to attack it exactly as I always have done and no different to any other weekend. I'll see what I can do. I have struggled over the last couple of races. My pace is reasonable but there is still something holding me back. I should be able to get more comfortable riding around here but the main fitness problem I’m having is endurance.
At Japan I struggled with that and I couldn't judge how much I had improved at Malaysia and here is another one. It shouldn’t be too hot here so hopefully I can hang in a lot longer in the race. If I get a good set-up and can ride like I have in the past, these last two races could go a lot smoother. Everyone has expected me to win here more than just this year, so it is not new to me.
I am not really feeling pressure here and I know what my capabilities are. Unfortunately they are not the same as previous years but the only thing I can do is my best. I can dream all these things but when I get out on the track there is only so much I can do. I'll see how I feel on the bike. Five wins in a row has been fantastic but I am not going to start the weekend expecting something more than what I am capable of.”