Indy MotoGP: Casey Stoner takes front fork gamble

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Casey Stoner will gamble on running 2011 spec Ohlins front forks in Indianapolis this weekend as he looks to end his long victory drought in MotoGP.

The Australian’s winless streak extends way back to the Sepang race in Malaysia last October and in a bid to challenge Jorge Lorenzo’s domination in 2010, Stoner is opting to run a set of 2011 forks he first tried at the Brno test earlier this month.

Although Honda and Yamaha have declined to use the new front forks until the winter testing campaign for 2011, Stoner requested to use them from this weekend’s Indianapolis clash in America.

Factory Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi will also try the new front suspension.

The 24-year-old said: “We used a new model of forks that Ohlins bought to us in Brno that a lot of teams were testing. We found a similar feeling to what we had at the start of the season with the 2010 fork but I will run them.”

Stoner ditched the 2010 spec Ohlins forks earlier this season after he crashed out of the lead in the season’s opening race in Qatar.

He then tumbled out of podium contention in Le Mans and opted to revert back to the 2009 spec Ohlins forks for the Mugello Grand Prix onwards.

He added: “I’m not sure if they (2011 forks) will work or not. We’ll have to run them in practice and see if we can get an understanding of them. If we use these forks then they might give us a small advantage but only really in feeling and not for anything else.

"It might be easier on a bumpier circuit like this but we haven’t got anything new for this race. We have to hope we can get a good setting and be competitive again because I’ve not been able to run at the front.

"Most teams will not use the 2011 forks because they can’t get two sets. We’ll try and have a back-to-back comparison and if we can get this fork working quite well then it is okay just to have one fork.

"It is quite a big difference in feeling and maybe the way we set-up the bike. It can be a problem having two different sets of forks but we’re just looking for some time.

"We’ve got a good race set-up but we can’t do anything better than what we’ve got. We need to look for something new and get more speed and we’re willing to take risks.”

Assessing his prospects ahead of this Sunday’s 28-lap race, the 2007 world champion said: “There have been a few tracks I thought it would happen but we still more or less in the same position.

"We just can’t close that gap and we’re trying some alien set-ups that we’ve never tried before to see if that helps this weekend.

"I don’t know if this weekend will be any different or not. We’ll try the new forks with some new ideas and see if we can pull something else out of the bag.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt