Motegi MotoGP: Casey Stoner predicts close race as MotoGP title beckons

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Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner believes Sunday’s Japanese MotoGP could be a repeat of the classic Estoril clash last weekend as he stands on the brink of his first MotoGP world championship crown.

Holding a 76-point lead over Valentino Rossi, the Aussie has only got to finish in front of his Fiat Yamaha rival to clinch the title with three rounds to spare.

But Casey Stoner isn’t expecting another Ducati and Bridgestone domination in the Twin Ring Motegi this weekend, saying he expects a tight race.

Factory Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi has won the last two Motegi races for Ducati and Bridgestone, and Makoto Tamada won the 2004 Japanese GP on a Bridgestone-shod Honda.

But Casey Stoner doesn’t believe it will be another Ducati romp in Japan, predicting a similar clash to Estoril where Valentino Rossi ended his hopes of becoming the youngest rider in history to win four successive races.

“Ducati and Bridgestone have got a good reputation at this track and I hope we can find the best settings so we can continue as we have been over the past few races.

“The last couple of years Loris has managed to stretch the field out. It would be nice to do that, but my feeling is that everything is starting to get a bit closer and I think it will be a tight race.

“There are a lot of hard braking points, which means a lot of overtaking can be done. A lot of people can make up a lot of ground on the brakes,” said the 21-year-old, who could go to his home race in Phillip Island next month as the new MotoGP world champion.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt