Casey Stoner says the number of laps he has completed at Sepang during testing has limited his appeal for the Malaysian circuit, but admits the expected humidity is more of an immediate issue for him.
Stoner's return to fitness was highlighted by his superb victory on home ground at Phillip Island just three days ago, but the heat of Malaysia is expected to pose a greater challenge for him in the midst of his medical ailments.
Nonetheless, Stoner is remaining positive about his chances around Sepang, a circuit he has performed well at in the past, including a race win in 2007, while he emerged fastest during pre-season testing at the Kuala Lumpar circuit too.
“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. But at Phillip Island things went so well from a physical point of view that I feel reasonably confident.
“It 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 here 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.
“The track has become a little... boring for me I suppose you could say – just because we have done so many laps here in testing – but the races are usually fun and I like the place. It has a kind of holiday feel to it and it puts you in a good mood.”
Having slipped away in the battle for seventh in the standings following a collision with Jorge Lorenzo in Australia that left him down in 15th, Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden has high hopes for Sepang, a relatively successful venue for him in the past.
“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 finished in that position five times out of six! 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. I'm expecting the usual heat – having suffered from the cold in Australia it will be the opposite here – but it will be interesting to get back on track at a place we have tested at.
“Sepang is one of the circuits where I have ridden the bike the most, back in January, and we have made a lot of progress since then. Fortunately I'm faster now so it will be interesting to see where we're at.”