Casey Stoner is hopeful that Ducati's decision to follow Yamaha's lead and introduce a new 'big bang' engine of its own for the 2010 MotoGP World Championship campaign will enable him to similarly make a 'big bang' in helping him to reclaim the title he won two years ago – as the Australian admitted he is relishing the premier class' return to 1,000cc power in 2012.
Stoner wound up fourth in the final riders' standings last season, despite missing three rounds along the way due to lactose intolerance that he is convinced will no longer hamper his challenge – “Blood tests showed I was okay for a normal person,” he is quoted as having said by the BBC
. “No-one was listening to me, so I don't believe I have to answer any questions. This is the first off-season in three years that I've not had an injury.”
What's more, this time around, with the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 – significantly revised from its predecessor, the GP09 – at his disposal and improved rideability from the 'big bang' configuration, the 24-year-old insists that he will be on the case right from the word 'go'.
“I'm fine and I feel great,” he underlined, adding in an interview with the official MotoGP website: 'I'm feeling better than I have in the last three years; my training levels have increased dramatically and my fitness is a lot higher than ever. We're really looking forward to this year, and are going out to win the championship.
“I feel we're ready for the season, also because the test we did at Valencia following the final race of 2009 was really positive. We tried the new engine configuration and really loved it. We think that will help us on the track and make the bike more balanced throughout the season.
“The new 'big bang' firing order that the Ducati engineers have been working on is definitely a step forward; it has improved traction and handling and we were able to do more with the bike, and it has reduced the bike's tendency to wheelie.
“Now we have to work on finding the right settings for the GP10 and understanding how the bike reacts to different set-up changes, which will be different to the old bike.”
Picking out team-mate and fellow former title-winner Nicky Hayden, record-breaking multiple MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi – who he rates as 'an extraordinary rider' – Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa as the men he predicts will be his greatest rivals in 2010, Stoner went on to enthuse about the FIM regulation change that will come into force in two years' time, rectifying what Rossi has previously described as 'the biggest mistake the world championship has made in the last 15 years'.
“Personally, it's going to suit me a lot better,” the Queensland native is quoted as having said by Visordown
. “Each category that I've stepped up [to], I've found it a lot easier to understand the power when I'm trying to get more traction. I'm actually really looking forward to the new category.
“When the switch came to 800s it was puzzling for myself why they did it; there's no manufacturer there that makes 800cc bikes from where to take the data from their factory bikes and put it in there – but at least now we are going back to a neutral kind of ccs, and hopefully it will be a bit more fun. The racing, in some ways, was better before, but last year there were a few pretty close races and a fair few battles up front.”