Casey Stoner reckons he’ll be a serious contender for victory in tomorrow’s Malaysia MotoGP clash, despite missing the front row of the grid in a record-breaking qualifying session.
The 24-year-old will start from fourth position on the grid for the 21-lap encounter after he posted a best time of 2.01.455. Stoner’s best lap came on only his seventh lap and at the end of a session run in typically hot and humid conditions he was a massive 0.937s away Valentino Rossi’s superb pole time.
Stoner missed his 11th front row start by just 0.201s after Dani Pedrosa’s last lap attack bumped the Spaniard on to the front row on board the Repsol Honda RC212V. Stoner was happy with his performances on race rubber but disappointed he couldn’t improve his best lap on the softer compound Bridgestone rear.
The Aussie, who claimed a brilliant victory in Phillip Island six days ago, said: “I'm not happy about the way this afternoon went. This morning we had a lot better feeling with the bike although we still needed to work on the rear end.
"We definitely got the bike working better on race tyres this afternoon and I did 20 laps on them and set my fastest lap of the session, so you can imagine why I'm disappointed. With hard tyres and almost race distance I did my fastest lap, so I should have been able to go faster with softer tyres.
"Unfortunately when we put new tyres on I had a big shudder in the bike. We’re not sure whether it was tyre pressure or something but it was big problem with the way the bike reacted and I couldn't go faster, especially without risk and it was better to come in. I went out on my second bike, which I hadn't tested at all today and by the time I got out on it with two laps left it was impossible to do anything with it."
Stoner might not have been able to utilise the extra grip of the softer Bridgestone tyre, but his pace on the harder compound left him confident ahead of tomorrow’s penultimate race. He added: “For the race I'm quite happy with the set-up, it's just the fact that I couldn't use my race setting for the qualifying tyres and the other bike didn't feel correct.
"Other than this everything went really well today, we just lucked out for the second half of the session. I'm actually looking forward to the race. I have a good setting and everything feels right. We just need to make sure we don't have this problem in the warm-up.
"In the race I can expect a podium but whether I do or not is different because everyone is riding pretty well. But on race tyres I'm comfortable and confident.”