There may still be two races of the 2008 MotoGP season left, starting this weekend in Malaysia, but Casey Stoner already has a medical and mechanical plan in place for his 2009 title attack.

The 2007 world champion, on target to finish second in this year's standings barring a disastrous showing at the final two rounds, needs surgery to fix a broken scaphoid bone in his left wrist, which was originally damaged in 2003 but had never healed properly.

After losing the title in Japan on September 28, Stoner could have elected to undergo surgery immediately, but decided to delay the operation until after the end of the season in order to give Ducati's engineers a thorough evaluation of next year's Desmosedici GP9, which Stoner will ride for the second time during the post-race test at Valencia.

"[The Valencia test] is the thing we're really focussing on now," said Stoner. "I really want to get those first two days done, get as much information on the bike as we can for the test ban period, so the changes that we need to make can be ready for the beginning of next season.

"We believe that we're going to be quite strong again next season, at least to try and fight for the championship, so we need to start as soon as possible."

Stoner will require at least two months' recovery time before he can ride again, meaning that if he underwent surgery before Valencia he would have been unable to test the GP9 until next year - a testing ban being in place from December 1 to January 20.

"If I got the operation done any sooner then it would be difficult to only have testing from the beginning of next year," confirmed Stoner. "It's going to take time for us to come back [to full fitness], but I think that by the time racing starts next year we should be ready."

Stoner, winner of five races so far this season, reiterated that the operation is essential.

"I'd love it all to just repair itself and go on happily, but unfortunately we need to get it done," he declared. "For me, I think we're quite lucky to have found it now. This season hadn't gone the way we'd planned it, I made a few mistakes, so it's better that we found [the injury] this season and can get ready for a better attack next year."

Stoner will be partnered by Nicky Hayden at Ducati Marlboro next season, which will be the Australian's third at the Italian factory team.



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