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MotoGP stars excited ahead of Sepang weekend

MotoGP stars excited ahead of Sepang weekend

Aleix Espargaró, Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Julián Simón were all present at the Sepang pre-event press conference on Thursday.

The anticipation for this weekend’s Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix continued to build on Thursday, with championship leader Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Aleix Espargaró and 125cc World Champion Julián Simón all in attendance at the official pre-event press conference.

Rossi arrives in Malaysia this week with a 38-point advantage over his Fiat Yamaha team-mate and closest title rival Jorge Lorenzo, following the Spaniard’s crash at Phillip Island last weekend. Knowing that he needs a top-four finish regardless of Lorenzo’s result at Sepang to secure the 2009 MotoGP World Championship crown this weekend, Rossi is refusing to become complacent despite the relative assuredness of his current position.

“We have the first match point for the championship,” admitted the defending champion. “After Jorge’s mistake at Phillip Island we have a good advantage. But we have to treat this like a normal race, especially in practice, because I like this track a lot and have had great results and races here in the past.”

“I was happy that we worked well throughout the weekend at Phillip Island, and my bike went well in the race. The main target is to reach Sunday with a good set-up. We spent a lot of time during the winter at this track, so we have a lot of data.”

Stoner was in fine form on his home track last time out, securing a race victory and wrestling third position in the championship standings from Dani Pedrosa. The Australian also came first on the Malaysian track in his title-winning year of 2007, and is feeling in fantastic shape ahead of this weekend’s race.

“The last two races were fantastic for us, it was the right way to come back,” said the 24 year-old. “In Portugal we had a great race and then at Phillip Island we topped it off. Things are so much better now; everything is working well, including my body, so we are really looking forward to this weekend now. It has been a long time since I looked forward to racing so much, because it was really hard when I wasn’t competitive before the break.”

Pedrosa has finished on the podium in the past three seasons at Sepang and has tasted victory in both of the smaller World Championship categories, but has never won in the premier class at the circuit. As the Repsol Honda rider attempts to regain third spot in the overall standings from Stoner, he is prepared for a testing encounter.

“This is a track where I have won in the 125cc and 250cc classes so I am missing the MotoGP win here, but it’s a place where we test a lot so I think everybody should be ready for this weekend,” observed the Spaniard. “Last year it was really hot in the race but that is normal here, so we will just try to do our best in practice and the best we can in the race.”

Niccolò Canepa’s injury last weekend during a practice session at Phillip Island means the Italian cannot participate for Pramac Racing this weekend. In his place, Aleix Espargaró will race, allowing the Spaniard to further acquaint himself with the Ducati machinery he will ride next season, when his full contract with the team begins.

“This is one of my favourite circuits so I think it will be a great weekend, and it will be a good test for next year,” he said. “The last two months have been very good for us, my brother (Pol) won his first two races and I had two races in MotoGP and got the contract for next year, so I think everything is perfect.”

Newly-crowned 125cc World Champion Julián Simón was also invited to the press conference, and motogp.com will also feature a separate interview with the Spaniard today.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2009, SHELL ADVANCE MALAYSIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX

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