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MotoGP big guns ready for Phillip Island action

MotoGP big guns ready for Phillip Island action

Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Chris Vermeulen were the MotoGP attendees in Thursday’s Australian pre-event press conference.

The build-up to the 2009 Iveco Australian Grand Prix intensified on Thursday as the riders made their final preparations for the 15th round of the season and MotoGP’s current top four, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and home rider Casey Stoner attended the official Phillip Island pre-event press conference, in the company of Stoner’s countryman Chris Vermeulen.

As the World Championship leader, with an 18-point advantage over his team-mate Lorenzo, Rossi was the first rider to speak, the Italian stating, “This is the key moment in the championship, with the three final races in a short period so now we will see who can become the champion!”

Commenting on the stiff competition he faced at the last round at Estoril, which saw Rossi finish behind Lorenzo, Stoner and Pedrosa in a tough race as he conceded ground in the title battle, Rossi noted that he expected a similar challenge this weekend at ‘The Island’.

“In Portugal all three of my main rivals had a great race, with a really high level pace, so it looks like Pedrosa and Stoner are also in a really good shape to try and win this weekend’s race,” added Rossi. “Especially Casey who has won here for the last two years and is at his home Grand Prix, so he has some extra motivation.”

When it came to Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha colleague Lorenzo to take to the microphone, the Spaniard gave his views on the championship scenario, commenting, “After my victory at Estoril I have a bit more of a chance to fight for the title as there is a big difference between being 18 points behind and 30 behind. But there are only three races to go and I think to win the title I will need to win these three races.”

Pedrosa, who crashed out in Australia early in the race last year, is determined to put on a good display for his Repsol Honda team this weekend and is looking forward to the excitement of riding at the special Phillip Island circuit. He explained, “It is great fun riding here, with fast corners that you can enjoy and that you can really slide around. But when it is cold it’s very tough!”

Stoner, meanwhile, having returned from a three-race break due to illness with a solid second place in Portugal, is ready for a battle at his home race and hoping to chase Pedrosa down for third in the standings. “Everybody is riding so well this year and we have had some good wins, but not as many as we want. My bike has been working at a really good level and it is nice to know that I can come back and be competitive. I know I have got a chance of winning this race and winning the last three,” said the Australian Ducati Marlboro rider.

Alongside the leading premier class quartet was Stoner’s compatriot Vermeulen, completing the press conference panel in his Rizla Suzuki colours, as he prepares for his final three races in MotoGP for the team. The Aussie is heading for a Kawasaki ride in Superbikes next season.

Vermeulen stated, “I would love to finish this season with Suzuki on a high as that would be the best way to go out. It hasn’t been easy but I am challenging for seventh place in the championship, my team-mate is there and he is only a few points ahead of me. That is our target and if we can get there we will be happy.”

Tags:
MotoGP, 2009, Iveco AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

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