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World Champion aims to bounce back at round three

World Champion aims to bounce back at round three

Having experienced his toughest race to date with Ducati in Jerez last time out the reigning MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner will be highly motivated ahead of the bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal.

Having experienced his toughest race to date with Ducati in Jerez last time out the reigning MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner will be highly motivated ahead of the bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal.

A relatively poor qualifying position of seventh in southern Spain at round two was followed up by a nightmare race which saw Stoner leave the track on two occasions before crossing the finish line in 11th place – his worse result since 2006.

Nonetheless, there are still plenty of reasons for optimism for the young Australian, especially given his prediction ahead of the second race of the year that his Jerez result would not affect his position in the standings come the end of 2008. He still managed to gather crucial points in Spain and currently sits fourth in the general classification, just one point behind third placed Valentino Rossi.

Stoner was dominant in his run to victory at the opening race of the year in Qatar, and having predicted a difficult time at round two his post-GP test on the Monday after the Jerez de la Frontera contest allowed his Ducati mechanics to resolve some of the problems experienced earlier in the weekend.

In 2005 Stoner was winner of the Portuguese 250cc race - and having qualified second before finishing on the podium despite a problem with his bike in last year's visit to Estoril, Stoner knows what it takes to compete at one of the most demanding tracks in the World Championship.

Estoril provides some unique challenges for the MotoGP riders due to its windy location close to the Atlantic Ocean, and the huge contrast between the fast, long straight and one of the slowest chicanes on the calendar. Indeed, the average speed of the circuit is the lowest of all the GP venues and the slow sections will require a tricky compromise in the set-up of the chassis and engine of the Desmosedici GP8, which will be Stoner's immediate focus on arrival in Portugal.

Commenting on the technical aspects of dealing with the Portuguese circuit as he prepared for round three, Stoner noted, `Estoril is a bit of a strange track, with a nice flowing section and some twisty and slow parts. One of my favourite sections is turn two, which is downhill and off-camber. It´s difficult but really nice.´

`In general the track has a lot of places where you can overtake so the race should be fun to watch,´ continued the World Champion. `Last year we did well in practice, we were very close to pole position and then had a slight technical problem in the race but finished on the podium. In theory if we can work well from the start and there are no nasty surprises then we should be in the fight for the win.´

Ducati Marlboro's MotoGP Project Director, Livio Suppo, added `Estoril is always a difficult circuit to visit because the weather can change very quickly and the wind is an almost constant nuisance for the riders. I think the weather could prove to be the most important variable this weekend, but it will be the same for everybody!´

`The test on the Monday after the GP at Jerez was positive for both Casey and Marco Melandri. Working together with Bridgestone they came up with some new solutions that Casey liked and we think there will be a good step forward from what we already have.´

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, bwin.com GRANDE PREMIO DE PORTUGAL, Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro Team

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