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Stoner fighting to get fit for Suzuka as he battles to overcome broken shoulder

Stoner fighting to get fit for Suzuka as he battles to overcome broken shoulder

Stoner fighting to get fit for Suzuka as he battles to overcome broken shoulder

After establishing his reputation in British and Spanish 125cc competition last season, Australian Casey Stoner has emerged as an outside tip for 250 World Championship honours in 2002 after some impressive preseason performances on the quarter-litre Aprilia. However, the 16 year old suffered a setback in private tests at the Circuit of Catalunya when he fell and broke his shoulder. Doctors were unsure if he would be fit for the season opener in Suzuka on April 7 but, just two weeks later, the plucky youngster is already preparing for a return to two-wheeled activity.

´I´ve been having plenty of physiotherapy and the shoulder feels a lot better so I hope to be doing some motocross training this weekend,´ said Stoner, who now lives in Spain at a country ranch owned by former Grand Prix racer Alberto Puig. `The broken bone is not really that painful and I´ve torn ligaments in both my shoulders before so the injury was not such a big thing for me. It was just really annoying because I wasn´t going particularly fast – it was just an awkward fall.´

Stoner´s frustration was compounded as the injury came just when his lap times had begun to close in on the top riders in the class. `I was a little nervous at the first test we did on the 250 in Jerez but the next two went perfectly and I felt very comfortable going to Catalunya. I had tested there on the 125 last year and it is probably my favourite track so to not be able to complete the test was doubly irritating.´

Despite the first interruption to what will be a steep learning curve for Stoner this year, he is now looking forward to giving maximum effort in Japan. `I haven´t raced at Suzuka before but like lots of other guys I´ve been able to learn the track using the Playstation game. I know my way around with a joypad but I´m sure it will be a different proposition on a motorbike! Hopefully we can get the first couple of races out of the way without any more injuries and see how the season progresses from there.´

Tags:
250cc, 2002, Casey Stoner

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