Valentino Rossi expects strong Phillip Island performance

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Valentino Rossi has dismissed his chances of extending Ducati’s phenomenal winning record at the Phillip Island track this weekend, but the Italian is still confident of a strong result in Australia.

Ducati has never lost a race at Phillip Island in the 800cc era thanks to the brilliant performances of Casey Stoner.

But Rossi has played down hopes of Ducati’s domination being extended this weekend after a troubled 2011 campaign.

Rossi and team-mate Nicky Hayden have only scored one podium apiece this season and neither has come close to challenging for a victory in the opening 15 races.

But Rossi is still confident he can be competitive at Phillip Island where he hasn’t won since 2005.

He told MCN: "Phillip Island is not so bad for our bike, so I expect to be as fast and try to make good result. I think that the Ducati is fast in Phillip Island because also Loris (Capirossi) and Nicky were not so bad there. But Stoner makes a lot of difference in his home Grand Prix and Phillip Island for Stoner is like Mugello for me. I don't know if it is possible to fight for the victory because Honda and Yamaha are very fast, but we hope to have a good feeling with the bike like in Japan and try finish the race in a good position."

The nine-times world champion arrives in Australia looking to bounce back from a first lap crash at the Twin Ring Motegi earlier this month that left him with a broken little finger on his left hand.

The injury forced Rossi to miss the latest test on Ducati’s GP12 machine, which features an aluminium chassis, in Jerez last week.

Stoner will win his second world title on Sunday if manages to score 10 or more points than factory Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo. The Aussie, who has won eight times in 2011, holds a 40-point lead over Lorenzo with only 50 points left to fight for after Phillip Island.

He is chasing a fifth straight win on home soil having not lost at Phillip Island since 2007.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt