Crash.Net MOTOGP News
Stoner: Ankle worse but it won't affect me
25 October 2012
This Sunday will mark Casey Stoner's final MotoGP appearance in front of his home Australian fans and the penultimate race of his career.
Adding to the occasion, the reigning double world champion will seeking a record sixth consecutive Phillip Island victory - Valentino Rossi having also won five straight premier-class races at the circuit from 2001-2005.
But the Repsol Honda rider, who had turn three named in his honour on Thursday, isn't sure if his healing ankle and lack of fitness will allow a victory challenge on Sunday.
“It's the last time I'm going to be racing here and there are only two races to go for me in my career. So it's been built up to be a big weekend,” began Stoner on Thursday.
“I'm still going attack it exactly as I have always done and in a lot of ways it's no different for me than any other weekend, except that I do really enjoy this track. I love it.
“Honestly, people have been expecting me to win here for more than just this year. It's not something new to me and even last year I didn't feel the pressure I did the years before.
“I know what my capabilities are. Unfortunately this year they are not the same at this point. The only thing I can do is my best. I can dream all I want, but when I get out on track there is only so much I can do. I'll only know what that is after Friday and Saturday.
“We've managed to get five wins in a row, which is fantastic, but I'm not going to start the weekend expecting more than I'm capable of. We'll just have to wait and see.
“As for being my last time here, there will definitely be some feelings I suppose on Sunday afternoon.
“It's not going to be the last time that I ride this track, for sure I'll come back here and still ride around and maybe enjoy the views and really enjoy the track properly.”
And what would he ride?
“Maybe a test or something. I don't know,” replied Stoner. “Just to enjoy this circuit on any bike will be enough... I'm sure I'll sort a Honda CBR1000. That will be more than enough for me here!”
Turning specifically to his ankle injury, Stoner revealed it is actually worse than when he first returned to MotoGP action two weeks' ago.
“The ankle is definitely worse than when I first came back in Japan. I'm having a lot more trouble day to day just getting around at all, but I don't think it will affect me on the bike,” he declared.
“The biggest issue I've been having on the bike is flexibility in the ankle and fortunately there are not too many critical right hand corners here. So it shouldn't play too big a part.
“The main fitness problem I'm having is just endurance. I struggled in Japan and we weren't able to see how much we'd improved by Malaysia.
“But it shouldn't be too hot here. So if we can get the bike set-up and ride like we have in the past things could go smoother in the last two races.”
Stoner also spoke of his pride at having the corner named after him.
“I've had a lot of fun around this track. When I first started riding here I'd say turn three was one of my least favourite turns,” he revealed. “The wind plays a big part there and can really catch you off-guard and it's a very quick corner. You never want to go down there.
“Over the years we learnt how to overcome a lot of the issues there and now it's got to be one of my favourite turns. It's very quick. I'm able to ride how I enjoy riding and to have it named after me was something very, very special. I really appreciate it and it's a great honour for me.”
The 27-year-old will retire after the Valencia season finale on November 11. With his Indianapolis injuries ending his title hopes, Stoner is on course to finish third in the championship.
Prior to his 2007 Australian MotoGP victory, Stoner had only taken one podium from his six previous appearances and has often stressed that in terms of track knowledge he has little advantage over his rivals, having spent much of his road racing career in Europe.
Last year's event saw Stoner clinch his second world title, on his birthday.
Stoner finished third in last Sunday's rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix, his second race back since surgery.