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Rossi expects strong Stoner threat at penultimate round

Rossi expects strong Stoner threat at penultimate round

Ready for the concluding double-header of his title-winning 2008 season, Valentino Rossi believes Casey Stoner is the man to beat in Malaysia.

Valentino Rossi is MotoGP´s most successful rider at Sepang courtesy of his four premier class wins at the South East Asian circuit and the legendary 29 year-old is focussed on adding to that victory tally at this weekend´s Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Having secured his eighth World title with a fifth consecutive 2008 race win in Japan, Rossi saw his victory-run ended by a rampant Casey Stoner in Australia, the Fiat Yamaha rider unable to catch the home favourite after starting twelfth on the grid - following a painful qualifying crash.

Nonetheless, second place `Down Under´ for Rossi resulted in his 149th visit to a Grand Prix rostrum and leaves him just ten short of the all-time record held by MotoGP Legend Giacomo Agostini, whom he also robbed of the all-time premier class win record earlier this season.

Having recovered well from his sore neck sustained in that Australian crash, Rossi expects another strong challenge this weekend from Stoner, who was the 2007 victor in Sepang and is the only man to have won in Malaysia in all three classes.

`I love Malaysia and I have had some great races there in the past, plus it generally suits our bike very well so with any luck we can look forward to a fun weekend. That said, we know that Casey will be very strong again as well as others so it will no doubt be a good battle!´

Rossi visited the scene of the seventeenth round of the season twice during his crucial pre-season transition from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres and is confident of being competitive there again this weekend.

`I am looking forward to going to Sepang because we have done quite a bit of testing there with Bridgestone so we have a lot of data – not something we have had for most of this season,´ said the Doctor. `I was quite strong there in the winter and I hope it´s the same again this time, especially since we know a lot more about the tyres now.´

Keen for two more wins to end a highly successful campaign Rossi has another milestone in his sights, being just 35 points short of the highest ever tally in a MotoGP season, with 50 still up for grabs, a record which he shares with Stoner. The Italian is also keen maintain Yamaha´s superb run of having at least one rider on the rostrum in every single race so far in 2008.

`We have two races left and I would really like to try to win them both, plus I also want to keep up Yamaha´s excellent podium record this season,´ he added.

MotoGP, 2008, POLINI MALAYSIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX, Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

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