Sepang MotoGP: Casey Stoner ready to challenge for 10th victory

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Newly-crowned MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner is confident he can take his 2007 victory tally into double figures after he claimed a front row start for tomorrow’s Malaysian GP in Sepang.

The 22-year-old will start from second position having just been beaten to pole position by former world 250 championship rival Dani Pedrosa.

Stoner, who clinched his first world title in Japan last month, has been one of the fastest and most consistent riders on race tyres all weekend and the factory Ducati believes he has the set-up to claim his 10th victory of a dominant campaign in tomorrow’s 21-lap race.

“I’ve been a bit unlucky in the last couple of qualifying sessions but we have been always very happy with the race set-up and everything is working very well. Everything has felt very comfortable pretty much since the first practice. We haven’t changed the set-up too much, just a little bit here and there. I was trying to get the hardest tyres possible working because with the temperature as hot as it was today I think it is going to make for a difficult race. I just hope that we have the best set-up that we are not too far from now, “said Stoner, whose own challenge for pole position was hampered by an electronics glitch.

He added: “The bumps are so bad in places that the electronics system didn’t work as well as usual with the qualifying tyre which lost us a bit of time.”

Stoner, who has 125 and 250 GP victories under his belt in Malaysia, said his performance this weekend has been a significant improvement from a test session in Sepang back in late January.

“For some reason in testing last year and this year, also with the LCR team, I sort of struggled a little bit but when we’ve come here for the race I’ve got a lot more comfortable. “At the beginning of the season we were getting used to the bike and in testing here we kind of struggled a bit. It wasn’t until the Phillip Island test in February that I started to get really confident. I’ve won here on 125 and 250 and this weekend I’m really happy with the way the bike is working, “added the Australian rider, who said motivation is no problem despite having already wrapped up the world championship crown.

He added: “I don’t think anything is going to motivate me anymore than each weekend itself. We are going out there to try and win races and I don’t think the goal at the end of the line is anymore of a motivation than it is each week to try and win the race.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt