Stoner plays down title hopes

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Casey Stoner has played down his MotoGP world title aspirations despite his stunning debut premier class win in Qatar.

Stoner became the first rider in history to win an 800cc MotoGP race when he upstaged seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi to claim success in the season’s opening race.

But the 21-year-old Aussie is keeping his feet firmly on the ground and has said he is still targeting a top six championship finish in 2007.

“I want to finish inside where I did last year, “said the factory Ducati rider, who finished eighth in his rookie MotoGP season last year but held a place in the top six until late in the season, when three crashes in the last three races relegated him down the final standings.

“I ended up eighth last year and there were a lot of bad results and DNFs that other people didn’t have. And they still only just beat me in the championship. If we had finished some of those races where we were in good positions we’d have ended up quite nicely in the championship in the top six. I want to build on that and that’s not being unrealistic. If I’d finished those races I crashed in things would have looked quite good at the end really.”

The 21-year-old also shrugged off suggestions that he is over self-confident and he added: “I know what I can do. I’m not saying I’m going to be world champion and I’m not saying I’m going to be a world-beater.  I’m just saying I believe I can finish inside the top six this year. That was the position I was in up until the last two races last year so it’s nothing out of the ordinary. So I don’t believe people can say I’m full of confidence.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt