Pressure off Stoner as MotoGP arrives in Malaysia
Colin Edwards, Andrea Dovizioso, newly crowned World Champion Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Álvaro Bautista took questions from the media in Thursday’s press conference ahead of the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Straight back to work after claiming the 2011 MotoGP title with victory in his home GP at Phillip Island just five days ago, Casey Stoner was joined by Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati’s Valentino Rossi, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards and Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista in the Thursday press conference ahead of the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Australian Stoner admitted that with the title now secured he would be able to enjoy the final two races of the season with a lot less pressure, starting with tomorrow’s opening practice session at the Sepang International Circuit.
“I’ll be a little more relaxed, hopefully,” said the 26 year-old. “I’ll see what happens tomorrow when I’m in the box, how I work and if everything just goes that much more smoothly because there’s a big weight of pressure off. We knew in those last few races if we made any mistakes Jorge was going to take a lot of points off us and the Championship was wide open. So to clinch the Championship with a couple of rounds to go is always nice and we can go on and just enjoy these races.”
Stoner has won at Sepang in every category he has ridden in here, and hopes that the weather at the hot and humid Malaysian track favours a good weekend.
“Hopefully the weather stays off a bit,” he added. “It’s nice to come back to a circuit we’ve been this successful at and hopefully we can have a good weekend.”
Dovizioso maintained third position in the standings with his podium result at Phillip Island, and will continue to try and hold off team-mate Dani Pedrosa this weekend as the pair go head to head once again.
“The fight is at home, in the same team, and everybody knows it is really important for me to finish in front of him,” said the Italian. “To finish third in the Championship for me is the best result and really important before leaving (the team). I’m really determined to finish third and also have the possibility of a dream to finish second, which will be very difficult.”
He added: “This is a wonderful track, especially with MotoGP, it’s so nice to ride here and I enjoy fighting in the race. It’s good for me and I hope I have the possibility to fight for victory this weekend.”
Speaking about his recent decision to join Hervé Poncharal’s Tech 3 set-up for 2012, Dovizioso concluded: “Sure it was a difficult decision because the Honda is so strong and has been for a couple of years. In my dream there is still the possibility to try and fight for the Championship, and it looks like at the moment, with a lot of strong riders, there is no possibility for me. So I will try in a different way.”
Rossi comes into this weekend off the back of two difficult GPs in Japan and Australia, in which he has registered back-to-back DNFs. The Italian has previously won six times in the premier class at Sepang, but knows he faces another tough task this weekend in what has been a hard 2011.
Here at Sepang it’s always a great pleasure to ride, I love this track and I have always had good results here.
“Here at Sepang it’s always a great pleasure to ride, I love this track and I have always had good results here,” said the Italian. “In the (pre-season) test I was not very fast here so we hope to be in better condition for this weekend, and we have a battle in the Championship for fifth place. Right now I’m seventh which is more or less my normal position during this season, but unfortunately I lost important points in the last two races with crashes. The battle for fifth is not over.”
The finger Rossi injured in his Motegi fall continues to cause him an issue, and he further explained: “Unfortunately in Phillip Island I had to have a lot of injections because it was very painful to ride, and the finger is still quite swollen. Hopefully over the next few days it will be less painful.”
For Edwards the focus is already shifting to next season when he will ride with a new CRT team, and the American is hoping for two more good results before he moves on from the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team.
“It’s a new adventure and it’s a lot of work, our sport has a dream and a vision,” said Edwards, who finished fifth in Australia last weekend. “Everybody wants to see closer, competitive racing in MotoGP like it is in Moto2… Somebody has to start it.”
Confirming the bike set-up he should start 2012 on after speculation on possible manufacturers, Edwards said: “It’s a BMW/Suter which is what I signed for in the beginning, and I’m happy to be working with those guys. We’ll have to go out there and work and test. It’s probably not going to be competitive in the first race, maybe not in the last race, but we’ll work extremely hard to build it.”
Bautista has looked on the verge of impressive top-five results in the last two rounds before crashing in the race, and the Spaniard is confident he can convert his recent form and the GSV-R’s potential into a good result at a track he scored his equal-best MotoGP result of fifth at last season.
“The Suzuki is now more competitive in every kind of condition and at every track. In Australia the Suzuki had always struggled a lot and we had an almost perfect weekend, we just had to finish the race. I was third on the grid and fighting for fifth position. Here last year I was fifth, and this year our aim is to be more competitive here,” said Bautista, who will be joined on the team this weekend by wildcard John Hopkins.
“This race we will have two riders in the team. Now it’s a good chance to see two Suzukis on track, and maybe it can help Suzuki to produce a 1000cc bike for next year.”