Casey Stoner insists he has shrugged off the fitness problems that plagued his 2009 MotoGP campaign, going as far to say he is in the best shape he has been for at least three years.
Stoner's hopes of regaining the MotoGP world title were dashed in 2009 by illness, an ailment that saw him miss three rounds and put him out of the fight for the championship.
Nonetheless, a successful return to competition towards the end of the year saw Stoner win two of the last three races, the Australian giving a glimpse of his potential form should he stay fit and healthy over the winter.
Indeed, Stoner, speaking to press at Ducati's launch party in Italy this week, says he has enjoyed an uninterrupted pre-season training programme thus far and those strong results by the season's end give him confidence that he'll be a threat once testing underway again.
“We had a good start to the season, and midway through when the bike was working flawlessly I started having problems myself,” he said “We saw as many doctors as we could but there were no answers, so everyone started pointing at my head and saying it was a mental problem.
“I knew better; I'm not going to have a mental breakdown in the middle of the season when everything's going well. We figured it out over the two-month break and came back strong, and it was nice to come back and get a few good results before the end of the season.”
“I'm feeling better than I have in the last three years,” he added. “My training levels have increased dramatically and my fitness is a lot higher than ever, and it feels easier. We're really looking forward to this year and are going out to win the Championship.
“I'm looking forward to this year. It is my first off-season in the past three years where I haven't had any kind of injury or operation, so it's been good to train throughout.”