MotoGP: Nicky Hayden says Casey Stoner not cracking under pressure

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Reigning champion Nicky Hayden believes that Casey Stoner is not cracking under the pressure after the Australian’s bid to win his first premier class crown in tomorrow’s Japanese GP suffered a major setback today.

Stoner seems certain to succeed the American as MotoGP world champion, but the Ducati rider was a disappointing ninth on the grid in today’s decisive qualifying session.

Hayden, who scored his fourth consecutive front row with third place behind Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi, said he didn’t think Stoner was folding under the weight of expectation.

Stoner only has to beat Rossi in the Twin Ring Motegi in tomorrow's 24-lap race and Hayden said: “I know the press love that word pressure. Last year they kept putting it out, putting it out to me. But, he’s still got a pretty good gap. It’s not a lot of pressure I wouldn’t think. I would think he was under more pressure on the last lap in Barcelona or at Le Mans in the rain. That was pressure. When he was over there sleeping in his trailer when he was on a privateer 250, that was more pressure than now when he has a 76-point lead. He’s still looking pretty good, so we’ll see what happens.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt