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Confident Stoner looks forward to opening round

Confident Stoner looks forward to opening round

A week after successfully completing preseason preparations for his premier class title defence at Losail, Casey Stoner will return to the same venue for this weekends season-opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar hoping to repeat the victory which so dramatically marked the start of his superb 2007 campaign.

A week after successfully completing preseason preparations for his premier class title defence at Losail, Casey Stoner will return to the same venue for this weekends season-opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar hoping to repeat the victory which so dramatically marked the start of his superb 2007 campaign.

The sight of Stoner flying down the kilometre-long Qatar straight ahead of Valentino Rossi en route to his first MotoGP win onboard the awesome Desmosedici GP7 last March will remain in the memories of race fans years to come. The young Australian will be straining every sinew in his body to repeat that triumph under the floodlights on Sunday.

After enjoying his first Christmas as World Champion in December, resting up after damaging his shoulder in Jerez in the final test of 2007, Stoner has been in excellent form since the New Year during practice visits to Sepang, Phillip Island, Jerez and most recently Losail.

He looks to be perfectly comfortable with his Bridgestone-shod Desmosedici GP8 an evolved model of last years championship winning prototype but still appears to have his feet firmly on the ground, as he assesses the current status of his race package in his honest and straightforward manner.

´I´m happy that the races are starting up again and I´m satisfied with the job myself and the team have been able to do in the preseason tests,´ states the 22 year-old rider.

´The Ducati engineers have made a few small changes to the bike over the winter that have produced a notable general improvement. The GP8 has better acceleration in low revs and the set-up changes we made at Phillip Island have improved its performance on the exit from corners.´

´The Bridgestone tyres have worked well at all of the tracks we´ve tested at, including the night test in Qatar, so from that perspective I´m also really happy.´

Looking ahead to the first race of the year, Stoner adds: ´It will be different but I don´t think it changes the job for the rider, especially because we´ve already had two days of tests last week to get used to the track conditions and the lights.´

´Temperature will be an important factor though. Especially as far as the tyres are concerned because at 11 o´clock when we start qualifying and the race it is really cold. We´ll have to wait and see if the conditions are the same as they were for the test.´

Meanwhile, Stoners boss at Ducati Marlboro, the teams MotoGP Project Director Livio Suppo, adds positively: ´Casey has proved himself to be the man to beat and the level of confidence he has with the bike and tyres is fantastic. Compared to this time last year he has improved even more and it´s a great pleasure to see that his World Championship success has not taken anything away from his desire to win.´

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, Commercialbank GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

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