Casey Stoner proud to follow Mick Doohan at Repsol Honda

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Casey Stoner has told MCN of his delight at fulfilling a lifelong dream to ride for the Repsol Honda team and follow in the illustrious footsteps of fellow Aussie Mick Doohan.

Giving his thoughts on his switch from Ducati at a press conference in Malaysia this evening, the 2007 world champion was asked by MCN why he had opted to sign for HRC after a glorious spell with the Bologna factory.

Stoner, who won three races in 2010, said: “From a technical point of view at Ducati, everybody I worked with I’m very disappointed I had to leave them but at the same time it has been a dream of mine to ride for this team (HRC) and to follow in Mick Doohan’s footsteps.

"Even for a three-rider team it is going back to the Doohan, (Alex) Criville (Tadayuki) and Okada days and even when they had four with Sete. There’s a bit of history there and hopefully we can all be running at the front and pushing each other.

"Having two strong team-mates is fabulous from that point of view. Going back to Ducati, for me it was time to leave.

"We knew we had the option with them to stay but after a lot of pressure and things that happened in 2009, it helped with the decision and we decided to pursue my dream which is to come and ride here.”

Doohan won five world titles for Repsol Honda in an unrivalled period of domination between 1994 and 1998 and Stoner said the five-times world champion had been a major influence on his career.

He added: “Doohan's determination and never-give-up style is what I've tried to follow my whole career and he's been an inspiration for me.”

Stoner also spoke of his delight at making such an immediate impact on Honda’s factory RC212V after his finished second on his debut in testing at the Valencia circuit back in early November.

Stoner, who completed his first season in MotoGP in 2006 as a Honda rider with the LCR squad, added: “It was a very exciting time for us and I’d been waiting for it for so long because I’d signed the contract so early in the year.

"From that moment until the week before Valencia I wasn’t thinking about and I concentrated on my season but that last week before the test was a very exciting time for me.

"To finally get on the bike and understand what it feels like was really nice. The bike felt great from the off. Of course there is no motorcycle out there is perfect and there are always things you need to change to make it feel as good as possible.

"I couldn’t have asked for much more from the first test. I had an unbelievable feeling from the bike and I had a great time riding it. I’m looking forward to being back out there and it has been a long winter waiting for this test.

"The engine character compared to the Ducati was a lot smoother for me. I could control a lot more with the hand what was happening with the throttle.

"I think a general thing, which we can see from the TV, is that we need to improve the braking stability and all the riders have the same opinion.

"If we can improve the braking stability and the chassis to give a bit more turning in the middle of the corner I think this can go from a great package to a championship-winning package.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt