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Stoner confident at dry and dusty Welkom

Stoner confident at dry and dusty Welkom

Stoner confident at dry and dusty Welkom

Casey Stoner starts his South African adventure today as an outside tip for honours in the 125 race. The Australian youngster, who spent two weeks at home near Sydney after the Suzuka race, took a starring role in the 250 event here last year, storming up to second place behind eventual winner Marco Melandri before spectacularly crashing out on the third lap. He spoke to on the eve of the first qualifying session and revealed the secret behind his soft spot for the Phakisa Freeway.

`The weather and landscape here are similar to Australia so I guess I feel quite at home,´ said the 17 year old, who grew up riding dirt track. `I think the track suits me because it is a slick surface. There is a lot of dust on it and things like that and most people are scared of it but it is natural for me to have the bike moving around. So I think that´s why I adapt a bit better to it than a lot of the other guys.´

Stoner lapped with the lead group at Suzuka three weeks ago before losing the rear end of his Aprilia after a suspension jolt, but is hopeful the dry track time in the build up to the race will ensure that does not happen again and allow him to make a serious challenge here. `In Japan I didn't really have a lot of time to get used to the circuit and there was so many things to adjust to but we had virtually no dry time. Hopefully I´ll be on my number one bike for all the sessions this week and that should make things a lot easier. I had a good run here last year so hopefully I can repeat that – but this time without the crash!´

125cc, 2003, Arnette Africa's Grand Prix, Casey Stoner

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