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Casey Stoner - surprise package of the pre-season

Casey Stoner - surprise package of the pre-season

Casey Stoner - surprise package of the pre-season

Young Australian rider, Casey Stoner, is proving one the hits of the official preseason schedule which began with the IRTA tests in Valencia. This year will be Stoner's debut season in the World Championship, where he'll be racing in the 250cc category. Last term he competed in the British and Spanish 125 championships, and in two Grand Prix as a wild-card. As well as changing classes, he has also changed bikes, moving from a Honda to an Aprilia.

Stoner surprised everyone at the Ricardo Tormo circuit last weekend by posting the third best lap time overall in the 250s, just under a second and a half off the extraordinary time set by Fonsi Nieto. Yesterday the 16 year-old suffered a minor crash at Estoril, however he took a while to get back out on the track because for the time being he only has one bike available to him. Stoner was modest about his recent performances, 'I didn't think I'd go so well straight away, but I'm not getting carried away because this is only the beginning and everyone in this class is going quick. I know that it's going to be difficult, and that I'll have to work hard.'

One reason that Stoner believes the season will be so hard is the quality of his rivals, 'There's a lot of other good riders. Most of them have a good deal of experience as they've been racing in the World Championship for a few seasons, and this is a high level of competition. I still don't feel like I'm up there with them yet despite these first results. At the moment I'm not setting myself any targets, I'm just going to concentrate on my riding and see what happens.'

The change of both category and bike has meant that Stoner has had to adapt his riding style. Commenting on the difference between the Honda 125cc from last season and the Aprilia 250cc that he will race this year for Lucio Cecchinello's team, the young antipodean said, 'The bike weighs more and is a lot more powerful, and the most important thing will be handling this extra power.'

250cc, 2001, Casey Stoner

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