Casey Stoner confident, fit and raring to go

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Factory Ducati rider Casey Stoner is confident he will mount a much stronger challenge for MotoGP glory in 2010 having overcome the health issues that killed off his prospects last season.

The Aussie looked in relaxed mood as he made his first public appearance since early November at Ducati’s traditional team launch in Madonna di Campiglio in Italy today.

And assessing his prospects ahead of the new campaign, the 24-year-old said: “I think we’ve had a good opportunity to win the championship for the last two years and things haven’t gone our way.

“That’s been my fault and things we haven’t been able to avoid but I’m definitely looking forward to this year.

“It has been the first off season for three years that I’ve not had any injury or an operation, so it has been very nice to have the off season free and train throughout.

“I’m going out there to win the championship like everybody else and if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t matter as long as we give it all until the very end.

“I feel better than I’ve done for years and I’m definitely looking forward to this year. I’m not going to change too much from last year.

“We were fast enough and I was ready to fight and I’ll just try and take things step by step.

“And if something goes wrong I’ll try and roll with the punches and come out fighting the next week. No season can be perfect so I’m going to try and be as consistent as possible.”

A chronic fatigue issue that forced him to miss three races blighted Stoner’s 2009 campaign, but he is adamant he is fitter and healthier than he has been at any other stage in his career.

“We had a really good start to last season and we thought things were going to go a little bit more our way.

“We thought we’d at least take the fight for the championship to the end and when we finally hit the right set-up with the bike I started having a problem with myself.

“The first race we thought it was just a slight illness and I had a cold or something but as the next races went along we realised it wasn’t going away and it was continually getting worse and I wasn’t able to do anything.

“After three or four laps on the bike I was completely destroyed, so we went and got as many as appointments with different doctors as we could and nobody really had any answers.

“Everybody immediately started pointing to my head and saying it was a mental problem. But I know better and I’ve been doing this sport long enough that I’m not going to have a mental breakdown in the middle of the season when everything is going well.

“We decided to take the time off at home and by the time Donington came around it was becoming a little dangerous with my riding.

“It was getting harder to control the bike well and I decided to take time and figure it out.

“By going home we met up with a couple of different doctors and I think in all we saw about seven or eight.

“And there was only one doctor that suggested lactose intolerance, which ended up being my Achilles heel.

“We figured it out over the two-month break and I came back strong and in the races I had I was racing for the first time again because I’d been so uncompetitive for so long.

“Lasting to the end of the races was an unreal feeling. I want to say a big thanks to those who supported me but we definitely had a lot of critics at that time so it was nice to comeback and end up with a few good results and end on a strong note for next season.

“I’ve felt stronger and stronger and I feel better than I have done for the last three years. My training levels have increased dramatically and my fitness is a lot higher than before and I do not have to train as hard.

“People were saying questions need to be answered but nobody was listening to me.

“I don’t have to answer any questions when people aren’t listening and it was nice to comeback in Portugal and prove that there was something wrong and it wasn’t in my head,“ added Stoner.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt