Casey Stoner plays down 2011 title prospects

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Casey Stoner has moved quickly to play down pre-season hype that he will start the 2011 MotoGP world championship as favourite having moved to Honda.

The Australian made an impressive debut on Honda’s factory RC212V machine in Valencia back in early November when he finished a close second to reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo.

It prompted Lorenzo and new Ducati recruit Valentino Rossi to install Stoner as their most feared adversary for the 2011 campaign.

Talking about his expectations for the new season at the Repsol Honda launch in Kuala Lumpur tonight, Stoner played down the high pre-season hopes as he aims to add to his 2007 world title.

He said: “I don’t believe I’m the favourite. Jorge Lorenzo is the favourite because he is the one with the number one plate but we mustn’t forget what Dani (Pedrosa) did until he injured his shoulder.

"He was pushing hard and making a lot of points up and we don’t know what would have happened in the end. Valentino is always strong and with this new challenge it is going to have some ups and downs.

"With his shoulder we’ll have to see how long it takes to heal. But I try not to have too much expectation before a season.

"For me the best thing is just to do the best job I can and see what happens. Things change race-by-race so you must always try and roll with every punch that comes a long. I don’t go into any championship anymore without trying to fight for the victory and being world champion.

"That’s why everybody is here. We’ll have to wait until the season starts. There is nobody you line up on the grid with that you don’t respect.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt