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Birthday boy Stoner getting ready for home GP as Pedrosa is not keen to put feet up yet

Birthday boy Stoner getting ready for home GP as Pedrosa is not keen to put feet up yet

Birthday boy Stoner getting ready for home GP as Pedrosa is not keen to put feet up yet

The World Championship is now over with Dani Pedrosa a worthy winner but the frantic scrap for podium positions that has regularly formed a hugely entertaining 2003 125cc series still has two chapters left to run.

This weekend the riders of the smaller category will have to negotiate the winds and seagulls that seem to plague the open and sea-surrounded Philip Island circuit for the Grand Prix of Australia; the 15th year of the event.

Pedrosa's relaxed state could spell bad news for his peers as he now looks to chase his sixth win of the season. The second youngest World Champ in the history of the sport could run an extra second faster now that he is free of the weight and burden on his shoulders of being perched on top of the points table all year. In fact Pedrosa is the first rider since Valentino Rossi in 1997 to have taken the crown with more than one race remaining. However, if the Honda man lets his guard down too much then, as ever, there will be a host of young pretenders keen to bring the new number one rapidly down to earth.

Perhaps the rider more than ready to clinch victory will be Casey Stoner. The Aussie, who is 18 years old tomorrow (Thursday), has taken two second positions in the last four races and was clearly one of the fastest riders at Sepang before his untimely crash. Still recovering from a broken scaphoid Stoner will be keen to put on a good show for his home fans and the stage has been rarely better prepared for a debut GP victory. After all, the 125cc class has been full of ‘first-time-winners' this year. The excellent depth of competition means that teenagers such as Jorge Lorenzo, Hector Barbera, Andrea Dovizioso, Thomas Luthi, Alex de Angelis and Mika Kallio are likely again to form part of a bulbous leading group.

Not forgetting old hands like Masao Azuma who only has two races to go in his GP career before retirement and Stefano Perugini who will be keen to bury the disappointment of his mechanical breakdown in Malaysia with a heavy throttle hand.

Top speed and slipstreaming will be the order of the day this weekend and as usual it would take a brave person to place their money on a winner until the final moments of the race; maybe even the last 100 metres.

125cc, 2003, SKYY VODKA Australian Grand Prix, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner

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