Casey Stoner returns to Motegi - the track where he clinched the 2007 MotoGP World Championship, and lost the 2008 title - looking to continue a perfect start to the 2009 season in Qatar two weeks ago.
The Ducati Marlboro star was fastest in all three 2009 pre-season tests, then every track session at Losail - including a lights-to-flag victory in Monday's rain delayed night race, which he won by 7.7sec from reigning world champion Valentino Rossi.
While Stoner is something of a Losail specialist - having now won for the past three seasons - his Ducati Desmosedici has a similar record at Motegi, beating the home Japanese brands from 2005 - 2007, courtesy of Loris Capirossi.
Stoner finished second to Rossi by just under two-seconds at Motegi last year and took a championship-clinching sixth during the wet/dry 2007 event, but failed to reach the flag in both 2004 and 2006.
”I've finished on the podium in every class at Motegi [2nd in 2003 in 125, 3rd in 2005 in 250 and 2nd in 2008 in MotoGP] but there have been other times when things haven't gone so well,” said Stoner.
“I have always thought that the track is more suited to car racing than bikes, with so many hard braking and acceleration points, but in general I don't dislike it and if you have a good set-up it can be really fun.”
Despite his stunning form so far this year, Stoner insists it's a case of starting from scratch this weekend.
The Japanese Grand Prix will be the first event of the single-tyre era to take place on a track with no pre-season testing, and under the reduced 2009 track schedule.
“We haven't tested here in pre-season whereas we had in Qatar, so we'll see how we get on starting from zero, with less practice time available,” confirmed Casey. “I'm fairly confident, the set-up we found in testing has worked well at different kinds of circuits so we should have a decent base setting to work from at Motegi.
“In any case, we won't take anything for granted - we'll keep working hard together and stay focused,” he insisted.