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Stoner confident of battling for Motegi victory

Stoner confident of battling for Motegi victory

Second on the grid for the second round in succession, Casey Stoner is hopeful of having a good race on Sunday in Japan.

Last year he won the title at Motegi despite qualifying ninth and finishing sixth in the race, but this time around Casey Stoner is looking far more comfortable at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, having qualified in second position.

Matching his Indianapolis grid position, following his long run of successive poles this season, Stoner was also looking good in race trim on Saturday at the Twin Ring circuit – topping the third free practice timesheet ahead of pole man Jorge Lorenzo in the morning session.

Stoner may even have taken pole himself had it not been for some unusual intervention from a Japanese insect as he explained to, `Unfortunately when it came to qualifying I put my first one on which is always a bit of a run through to see where you can go faster, my second one was a dud and was spinning on every corner and then with my third one as I came up onto the straight to start the lap I got a big bug on my visor! It was impossible to do anything with it.´

The Australian continued, `I was trying to see where I needed to apex and I just couldn´t see properly. I hope that doesn´t happen again tomorrow for the race, but at least we are still second and we are on the front row. We know we have the pace to fight for the victory and it all seems quite close up front so we could see a good battle here.´

Ducati Corse´s MotoGP Project Director Livio Suppo was satisfied with the job his World Champion had done, even if the task of preventing Valentino Rossi from taking Stoner´s title is out of the Italian team´s hands. A podium finish will give Rossi the title even if Stoner wins the Motegi race on Sunday.

`It was pretty good and I think that Casey did a very good job,´ said Suppo, `Unfortunately on the last qualifying tyre he had a problem with a mosquito or something like that, but anyway he is the only Bridgestone rider on the front row. The Michelin qualifying tyres here have been very good. He is also the fastest on race tyres so we hope the weather stays the same tomorrow and he can have a good race.´

On the subject of tyres Suppo and Stoner both played down a rumour which has circulated amongst Italian media that Ducati could be set for a sensational switch to Michelin rubber for 2009.

`When things are going on in this world anything seems possible,´ mused Suppo. `But what is clear to me is that we have two very strong riders for next year. We have helped Bridgestone a lot with the development of their tyres. This year we haven´t won (the title), but another Bridgestone rider is winning, so there is a lot of our effort in the championship at the moment. For us it would be no problem to have a single tyre rule if no-one want to give bikes to the Michelin guys.´

For his part, Stoner added `At the moment we are racing on Bridgestones and from what I hear it could be going to a single tyre rule. I don´t know if that is the best thing for the championship or not, but whatever I am on I am going to be happy. For now I am on Bridgestone and I am ok with that.´

MotoGP, 2008, A-STYLE GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN, Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro Team

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