Motegi MotoGP: Casey Stoner not expecting Honda team orders

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Casey Stoner doesn’t believe Honda will impose controversial team orders in a bid to help Dani Pedrosa win an elusive first MotoGP world title in 2012.

The Spaniard trails factory Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo by 33-points with four races remaining, but the title chase could get another twist with Stoner returning from injury for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi.

The Aussie has missed the last three races with the serious ankle injury he picked up in a qualifying crash for the Indianapolis race in mid-August.

His return to action might help Pedrosa claw back some of the deficit to Lorenzo with Stoner expected to be an immediate podium challenger.

Stoner though says the topic of team orders has not yet been discussed with senior HRC management and he didn’t expect instructions to be issued at all for the remainder of the season.

The double MotoGP world champion said: “They (Honda) haven’t asked and I don’t believe they will. As I have always said, for me championships are always won fair and square and not because of a teammate helping you. As far as I know there will be none of that.”

Stoner admitted that Pedrosa still had a shot of winning his first world title and he spoke of his own disappointment that the Indianapolis ankle injury cruelly denied him the chance to retire from racing as world champion.

He added: “I was confident that in the last part of the season to have a good shot at the championship even though I had quite a big deficit. There are a lot of tracks that go left and generally I have always got on a lot better with the circuits towards the end of the season. I was confident with that.

“Dani is also quite fast at the end of the season. But you never know what will happen, things can turnaround and that hit me pretty hard, so things can happen at anytime.

“Dani and Jorge have been doing the best job they can and Dani got quite unlucky in Misano but the same thing happened earlier in the season with Jorge, so let’s see how it pans out.”

Stoner conceded he wouldn’t have a full understanding of his potential for the Twin Ring Motegi race until he has tested the strength and mobility in his ankle in tomorrow’s opening practice.

He said: “The doctors don’t know what your body is doing and each person’s body is different. I won’t know what to expect until tomorrow. It is OK walking around on my ankle a little bit but the pressure of going through riding and change of direction is completely different.

“At home I couldn’t do a lot. I went to couple of V8 races mainly to get out of the house because there was a lot of sitting around. I had to go everywhere on crutches.

“I was resting and it wasn’t really possible to do anything. Even training was difficult and keeping myself fit for my return was quite tricky.”

Stoner though was relieved that he could return, with doubts in the immediate aftermath of the horror high-side in Indianapolis about whether he would miss the rest of his final season.

He said: “It is really good to be back. I didn’t what to finish my last season with injury and sitting out some races and not having a shot at the championship. But I’m here to do the best job I can until the end of the season.

“I feel good and fresh, so we’ll see how I get on with the bike tomorrow. Having this much time off I think will be a little tricky for the first day.

“I haven’t tried to test the ankle on a bike because if I tweaked it prematurely and caused some more damage then I would be in a lot worse position than we are now.

“I just gave it as much rest as I could, some physio to get ready for this date. I had this in my head as the point to return.

“The doctors didn’t think it was the best time but I wasn’t going to miss Phillip Island, so I thought I may as well do these two races before and finish out the season with as many races as possible.”

Stoner will be bidding for a record sixth straight victory on home soil at Phillip Island on October 28.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt