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Stoner seeking Catalunya success

Having finally taken his and Ducati's first podium of the season, at his fifth attempt, last Saturday at Assen, Casey Stoner will be looking to continue his march up the championship order at this weekend's Catalunya round.

The Australian now sits seventh in the championship with 51 points, his low total caused by two DNFs in the first three races, but he is now just ten points behind his team-mate Nicky Hayden and absent world champion Valentino Rossi, in fourth.

Stoner has suffered from arm pump at the last two rounds, but is focussed on getting the most out of his machinery heading into the second of three Spanish races.

“I have had some fantastic races at Catalunya in the past and others not so good but generally I have very fond memories there,” said Stoner, who has taken three podiums, including one (2007) win from the last three Catalunya races.

“I hope we can get around the issues we usually have there and be competitive because gradually we are getting better but we need to start picking up the results to show for it; it would be nice to start doing that at Catalunya.

“The layout is really nice, it's quite a classic, but sometimes with our bike we have struggled to find grip there. We have to try and sort that out this year and hopefully I can have some fun because we normally get some really close racing here.”

Team-mate Hayden took his worst finish of the season with seventh at Assen, and hasn't been on the Catalunya podium since a second place in his 2006 title winning season at Honda.

“The Grand Prix of Catalunya is one of the nicest of the season,” he said. “Whenever we race in Spain there is always a huge crowd and a really hot atmosphere. Everybody likes the track, even though over the years it has developed a few bumps.

“As far as set-up is concerned it will be important to find good traction because there are a lot of corners where you're leaned over for a long time. There are also some hard braking areas so it will be important to find a good balance between stability and handling. We'll do our best to do a good job.”

Team manager Vittoriano Guareschi believes his riders have used the hectic run of races to improve their set-up.

“Barcelona brings us to the end of a series of three consecutive races during which time we have worked a lot on the set-up of the GP10 with both our riders,” he said. “Casey in particular needed to rediscover his confidence with the front and he was satisfied with the progress we made at Assen. At Catalunya, where there are a lot of long, flat corners, it will be important to build on what we have found so far as well as finding good rear grip.

“Traction at full lean in the long corners will also be one of the main set-up areas we will be working on with Nicky at Barcelona, especially if the conditions are very hot because this will put extra stress on the tyres.”



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