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Fresh hope blossoms for Australia in the youthful yet self-assured Casey Stoner

Fresh hope blossoms for Australia in the youthful yet self-assured Casey Stoner

Speaking to Casey Stoner is not like speaking to your average sixteen year-old. It´s true that he certainly looks sixteen, and his slight build could even pass him off as being barely out of primary school. However underneath this youthful exterior exists a certain mature calmness and confidence which oozes out from every pore as he speaks. At tests in Jerez last week the Australian hope got his first taste of the Aprilia 250cc bike he will ride in the 2002 World Championships.

´I was a little bit nervous, but not too bad,´ says the Kurri-Kurri born prospect after his first outing on his new bike. As if it is the most normal thing in the world to be propelled at incredible speeds on board just 100kg of machinery, the Aussie casually adds, ´It´s not the first time I´ve ridden one though, I´ve done about 20 minutes before, so I sort of know how big they are. Nevertheless getting used to that power is going to be pretty hard. I don´t know how far I can push the bike yet because I´m still learning.´

The sensations of riding a 250 were not lost on the youngster, ´Awesome, it´s awesome at the moment! It´s such good fun and there´s a lot more power to play with!´ That power of course is accentuated by Stoner´s lightweight physique, which should give him a hand to keep up with those more experienced riders. ´Hopefully it will, because straight away I´m not going to be as quick around the corners as the others. I hope it will let me gain a bit down the straights.´

He may have the attitude of someone beyond his years, but comfort still comes in the shape of Colin, his father, an ever-present at Casey´s side. ´He´s basically taught me everything I know, so to have him there all the time to help me with suspensions and set-ups, it´s great.´ He can also count on Telefonica Movistar Junior Team Manager, Alberto Puig - himself no stranger to looking after the kids with 16 & 17 year-olds Pedrosa and Olive continuing in his ranks this year - watching over him. ´Alberto´s there as an advisor. He´s helped me out a lot with everything, including getting this ride, so it´s good to have him there too.´

With these two figures around him it comes as no surprise that he should find himself within the confines of Lucio Cecchinello´s new 250 team, the amiable Italian having taken on board the young Spanish hope Raul Jara last year, and Alex de Angelis for 125cc this year. Stoner comments, ´At the moment this seems like just the best team I have ever been with. I´d say it was an almost perfect set-up. It should be really good this year, I´m so looking forward to racing on a 250.´

Stoner raced 125cc bikes in both the British and Spanish Championships last year, and appeared at Grands Prix in both Great Britain and Australia as a wildcard rider, finishing 12th in his home 125 race.

250cc, 2001, Casey Stoner

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