Stoner ready for Laguna Seca challenge

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MotoGP world championship leader Casey Stoner believes he will be capable of mounting a victory challenge in this weekend’s Laguna Seca clash.

Looking to bounce back from his disappointing fifth place finish in last weekend’s German GP at the Sachsenring, the 21-year-old Aussie goes into Sunday’s race with a commanding 32-point lead over closest title rival Valentino Rossi.

“Last year I was more than happy with my bike, I thought it was capable of winning the race but when I got into the race something wasn’t working right on it, “said Stoner, who crashed out of the 2006 Laguna round while he was holding a podium position.

Stoner is confident that his factory Ducati GP7 will be a force at Laguna, with the bike proving a competitive package at all tracks in 2007, with Stoner claiming victory in five races.

“I’m sure there are lots of bikes that will be fast and I’m sure the Ducati will fine; we’ve been quick everywhere this year, “he added.

Stoner said he is a big fan of the spectacular Laguna circuit, which features the famous Corkscrew corner.

“It hasn’t been designed by some guy with a computer, it flows with the land and is really different. It’s not just a bunch of right and left turns, it’s a good circuit with some ups and downs and it’s refreshing to go there. It’s sometimes a little bit dusty and the grip is not always the best, which I kind of enjoy sometimes. It has some things to tighten the arse cheeks and the first corner is a bit scary but it’s interesting and enjoyable to ride some parts. Much better than the last coupe of tracks.”

Stoner said he was hoping that the track re-surface would be significantly improved after the disaster of 2006, where sweltering hot conditions saw parts of the circuit break up.

“If the surface is better than last year it should be fine. It was like dirt track again last year. There were bits of stone coming up and hitting you in the face. And it made it a little bit tricky in a few spots the way they surfaced it coming over into the Corkscrew, it was really, really slippery. The track is a little bit scary. But going over that first corner was a big adrenaline rush, “said Stoner, who said he appreciated the support of the American fans too in his rookie MotoGP campaign.

He added: “Everybody seemed to have a lot of support and encouragement for me last year. The whole atmosphere and the Americans fans impressed me"

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt