Assen MotoGP: Casey Stoner looks to end podium drought

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Casey Stoner had admitted he would never have anticipated going into the sixth race of the 2010 MotoGP world championship still chasing his first podium finish.

The Australian, who seems certain to be moving to Honda in 2011, has yet to claim a top three finish in the opening five races and the last time he scored a podium was way back in October when he won the Sepang race in Malaysia.

Stoner was leading the opening race of the season in Qatar when he crashed out and was also in the hunt for a rostrum in Le Mans when he tumbled out in the early stages.

His only finished have been two fifth places and a best of fourth in the recent Italian MotoGP at Mugello.

The 24-year-old, who already trails championship leader Jorge Lorenzo by a massive 80-points, said: “It would be nice to see this weekend if we don't get such a bad start that we can at least fight for a podium. And that’s just not something I thought I'd be talking about at this point in the season.”

Stoner at least believes he’s getting closer to finding a set-up on his factory Ducati GP10 that will let him challenge close to the front.

Without a disastrous start at Silverstone last Sunday, Stoner would probably have contended for at least second place in the British GP. But he had to settle for fifth despite a brilliant charge through the field.

He added: “I don't think anyone was going to be able to fight with Jorge last weekend. But we definitely closed the gap a little bit with the set-up.  We got a lot more comfortable.

"I got a lot more feeling in the front end, but unfortunately, as I went to release the clutch the bike started jumping and it was game over after that. There was no way for us to really get there and I didn't think there was any way for us to get to fifth place, but we did.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt