Casey Stoner expects resurgent Yamaha in 2012

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Reigning MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner is expecting an even stronger challenge from Yamaha rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies in the inaugural 1000cc MotoGP world championship in 2012.

The Australian ended Yamaha’s domination of MotoGP when he won 10 races in 2011 to sweep to his second world premier class world title.

Stoner made a flying start to 2012 earlier this month when he topped the timesheets at the end of the opening three-day test session at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.

But Spanish star Lorenzo was second fastest on the new YZR-M1 while Texan Spies was fourth overall at the end of the Malaysia test.

And Stoner told MCN: “I think there’s not too much difference between the bikes at the moment. Yamaha is looking really strong and competitive. And considering Jorge had been off the bike for quite a long time now, he’s doing a great job. And Ben’s starting the season strong, so hopefully he can continue like that.”

Asked if he felt Yamaha had cut the gap in performance to Honda’s new RC213V during the winter lay-off. Stoner added: “A little bit. We’ll see when the racing comes around. But considering it had won the previous three championships and Honda hadn’t made any big step from 2010 to 2011, I don’t think there was ever a big step or a big gap.

“I think all the factories are doing the best job they can. They’re all trying to get the best possible bike on the grid they can. Everybody always seems to be kind of on par and that’s why all the factories are all normally pretty close.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt