On paper, Casey Stoner's fifth position after two wet Friday free practice sessions for the Valencia season finale - within half a second of fastest man Nicky Hayden - was a reasonable start, but the Ducati rider believes he is still 'a long way off' in terms of set-up.

The 2007 world champion's progress was hampered by a fast highside in morning practice, from which he fortunately emerged unharmed, but at least the rain took some of the pressure off his injured wrist.

"So far things haven't gone too well and we're still a long way off with the set-up," said Stoner. "For the past few races we've struggled a little more than usual in the wet and even though we've managed to sort it out in the past we've not done so here yet. We're lacking a bit of rear traction and we need to improve corner entry too.

"This morning I crashed without any kind of warning from the bike although there was a lot of water at that particular point and maybe I was a little outside the usual line," explained the Australian. "I wasn't hurt and in general the wrist isn't as bad in the wet anyway. We know what changes we need to make to the bike tomorrow if the conditions are the same. We know we can do better than that, we just need to work hard."

With team-mate Marco Melandri starting his final weekend for Ducati down in 13th position, the Italian factory needs Stoner to beat the Hondas on Sunday to secure second in the constructors' championship - Stoner having already claimed second in the riders' standings.

Meanwhile, Melandri looks unlikely to end his nightmare 2008 season on a high.

"Today was difficult for us, like all season has been, and I can't just blame that on the weather. I don't have any feeling with the bike and I can't ride it how I want to here," said the 2009 Kawasaki rider.



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