Casey Stoner refused to get too downhearted as his hopes of winning the MotoGP world championship in tomorrow’s Japanese GP were dented by his worst qualifying result of the season.
If Stoner finishes in front of Italian rival Valentino Rossi in tomorrow’s 24-lap race in the Twin Ring Motegi, he will clinch his and Ducati’s maiden MotoGP title success.
But he gave himself plenty of work to do having only qualified ninth, while Rossi finished second behind dominant polesetter Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner though refused to press the panic button despite a rare off day, and he believes he can still mount a podium threat to wrap up the world title.
“I really couldn’t get anything together and couldn’t get a good feeling with the bike. And it looks the tyres we are using, the harder compound, with the set-up I have is not working the best at the moment. No matter we did it keeping get worse and worse with every setting change. I was really frustrated because with the second qualifying tyre I could have improved my time but again with the setting change we made it changed the braking points and it almost impossible. Then as I came into the last chicane the bike would not go back a gear and completely destroyed the last corner and I lost half a second, it was big disaster again, “said Stoner, who denied he was feeling the pressure of trying to clinch the title with three rounds still remaining
Asked if he was worried to find himself languishing down on the third row, when his previous worst qualifying result was fifth in Jerez and Donington Park, Stoner added: “I’m not so worried. We still have 20 minutes in the morning and we have one set-up that we know works quite well that we can go back to. This afternoon we were trying a lot of different things and none of it really worked so we have to make a new plan. I still believe I can fight at the front. We just have to come up with something in the morning warm-up and anyway when the race starts I’ll have my race face on and be OK. It’s a bad starting position for me but last year I started from around this position many times and probably I can arrive in the front quite quickly.”