Motegi MotoGP: Title defeat no concern for Casey Stoner

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Casey Stoner reckons he won’t dwell for long on what seems to be certain defeat in the 2008 MotoGP world championship.

The Aussie’s reign as premier class champion is likely to be ended by Yamaha rival Valentino Rossi in Japan this weekend.

Stoner trails Rossi by a massive 87-points with just four races remaining, and he is likely to surrender the MotoGP crown on Sunday at the Twin Ring Motegi – the same circuit where he wrapped up an emphatic 2007 title success.

But the 22-year-old said he wouldn’t be overly bothered at losing the title, which has slipped out of his grasp in the last three races.

Stoner is without a podium since the epic Laguna Seca clash in late July and he said: “I really don’t care when you know the world championship is gone. Like for Valentino last year, because we were so strong and consistent with a big points advantage, it is almost impossible to lose the world championship. The situation is the same.”

Asked if he hoped Rossi would clinch the title on Sunday in Japan rather than the 29-year-old claiming a sixth premier class world crown in front of Stoner’s home crowd in Australia next weekend, Stoner added: “I really don’t care. Each race is the same to me. We just enjoy some tracks more than others, but we have to do the same job every weekend.”

But he paid tribute to Rossi’s 2008 campaign, with the most successful MotoGP rider in history returning to the best form of his career.

“Valentino has ridden unbelievably well this year. When I was struggling at the start of the year he was strong, and in the last part of the season when I’ve made mistakes he’s been there to pick up the pieces. We have made mistakes this year and he’s deserved it outright. It has been frustrating for me because since China, every race where I’ve not had a problem or a crash, I’ve been on the podium. That’s a bit frustrating but I’m sure we can comeback harder", said Stoner.

Stoner at least seemed much happier with the condition of his troublesome right wrist today.

A damaged scaphoid bone which he first injured in 2003 seriously hampered Stoner in Misano and Indianapolis, but he is hoping for fewer problems in Japan.”

“At the moment the wrist is perfect and I’m really happy with the way it is. We’ll just have to see how it performs on the bike and whether a bit more movement upsets it. But for now I’ve got no complaints.

"In Indianapolis it wasn’t good but the last three or four days it has come a big step better. We have to see if the movement of the bike is going to upset it and make it worse or if it will be fine for the weekend", said Stoner.

Stoner admitted he is still likely to have to ride with the wrist heavily strapped, but his preference was to ride unaided.

He added: “When we do a certain type of strapping to the wrist it improves the situation a lot. We put the wrist at a certain angle so I don’t have the opportunity to get it back into the area where the pain is. I’m sure it will be okay. I don’t want to ride with it strapped. It is very annoying and a big pain in the bum so I prefer to ride without it.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt