Motegi MotoGP: Casey Stoner confident after fast start

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Casey Stoner’s reign as MotoGP world champion might be close to ending, but the Aussie showed he intends to go down fighting after he topped the timesheets on the opening day of free practice for the Japanese GP.

The Aussie is likely to surrender his world crown in Sunday’s race, with Italian rival Valentino Rossi holding a massive 87-point lead with just four races remaining.

A best lap of 1.48.121 in this afternoon’s second session saw Stoner claim top spot from Dani Pedrosa and he said he was confident having not experienced any major problems with the troublesome left wrist injury that has plagued him recently.

He said: “It was much better than the last two races and my condition is not a problem here. Only the in the dry is it a little bit more difficult but in the wet it’s 100 per cent.”

Stoner confirmed he didn’t need any strapping on the wrist to ease the pain as he had needed in Indianapolis earlier this month and he said: “I prefer not to because I don’t have the same movement. If I can I want to ride without the strapping because it restricts my movement too much.

"Sometimes on the brakes going into right hand corners the wrist is a problem, and normally on the right hand corners because I have to bend my wrist sideways to hang off the bike or stand the bike up which is when it is worse.”

Stoner said he had some minor concerns about grip levels after this morning’s session was run mainly in full wet or damp conditions.

He added: “The track seems to be extremely slippery in the wet. I’m not sure but maybe recently they’ve had some racing here that has put something on the he circuit that has made it slippery. The tarmac is very good and very smooth and in the dry it is consistent, but in the wet I’ve normally found the circuit to be good but today it was unbelievably slippery.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt