Casey Stoner expects Marco Melandri to star in 2008

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Reigning MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner has backed new Ducati recruit Marco Melandri to make the Bologna factory an even bigger threat in 2008.

Aussie Stoner was the outstanding Ducati rider last season as he romped to his maiden world title success, logging 10 victories to humble rivals Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa.

Stoner's dominance was in stark contrast to the likes of Loris Capirossi and Alex Barros, who struggled to make a major impression in 2007 on the Desmosedici.
Stoner though believes Melandri will emerge as a genuine threat in 2008 after the Italian had a season to forget on Honda's struggling RC212V 800cc machine.

"If Marco is able to win then I'm very happy for him and I'm happy for Ducati. He has been putting a lot of effort over the years and he deserves to get some good results. I think he has got enough talent and Marco coming to the team new is like me like last year in that he is an unknown quantity. We will wait and see how he goes but there is no reason why he can't be running at the front," said Stoner, who will be back on track on Sepang next Tuesday (January 22).

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt