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Stoner ready for sweltering Sepang

Stoner ready for sweltering Sepang

Following a victory in only his second race back after time off through illness, Casey Stoner is feeling confident ahead of the testing conditions that await in Sepang this weekend.

The 2007 MotoGP World Champion rode a strong race from start to finish at Phillip Island to dispel any lingering doubts over his fitness following an enforced break, and now Casey Stoner is ready to tackle the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Intense heat and punishing humidity are characteristics associated with the Sepang circuit, which will provide Stoner with the next test in his recovery. There has been little confusion surrounding the Australian’s fitness so far, with second place at Estoril and first on his home track signalling his return to strength.

Stoner was pleased with his physical endurance at Phillip Island, and with a race victory at Sepang in his 2007 title-winning season the 24 year-old knows what to expect at the 5,548km long track, where he placed sixth last year.

“In the past I used to like racing in the heat but last year in Malaysia I was racing with a wrist injury and I’ve had the physical problems everybody knows about, so I suppose it’s a combination of factors that I have suffered with in recent hot races,” said the Ducati Marlboro rider, who currently sits third in the World Championship standings. “But at Phillip Island things went so well from a physical point of view that I feel reasonably confident.”

“Sepang will definitely be a tough race as being fast and consistent in those conditions is always difficult regardless. It is not easy to find the perfect set-up there but that’s always been the case and with every day that passes I feel stronger and more confident that I can be competitive in both of the two races that remain.”

Stoner’s team-mate Nicky Hayden has always finished fourth at Sepang – with the exception of 2007 – and the American will be aiming to put behind him the memory of Phillip Island, where his unfortunate first-lap collision with Jorge Lorenzo resulted in a 15th-placed finish.

“I wouldn’t say that Malaysia is one of my favourite circuits and it’s almost as if I’ve got ownership on fourth place there because I’ve finished in that position five times out of six!” said Hayden. “Having said that if I were to manage fourth place this year I’d probably be more than happy. We’ve arrived here on the back of a disappointing weekend in terms of what might have been but that’s over now and we have to look forward.”


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