STONER GETS THE KARTING BUG Australian MotoGP star Casey Stoner swapped his handlebars for a steering wheel when he climbed aboard a racing kart at Australia's newest kart track near Murray Bridge in South Australia yesterday. Stoner, the 2007...
STONER GETS THE KARTING BUG
Australian MotoGP star Casey Stoner swapped his handlebars for a steering wheel when he climbed aboard a racing kart at Australia's newest kart track near Murray Bridge in South Australia yesterday.
Stoner, the 2007 MotoGP World Champion, adapted to the characteristics of the Australian-made Monaco kart, which was powered by a 125cc Leopard engine, quickly around the 1020-metre circuit.
"I've been really happy with the Monaco Kart and Leopard engine package, I've tested it once before and for me it is a heck of a lot of fun, it's easy to drive and extremely reliable," said Stoner.
"We'd fill it up with fuel and it goes and goes and goes which allows me to concentrate on my driving rather than worrying about the tuning and all the other things.
"I did a handful of laps in a kart when I was about ten years old but since then I haven't been in a real racing kart, only some four stroke hire karts which are a long way from the real deal."
The 23 year-old was tutored throughout the day by Australian karting icon Remo Luciani, who was suitably impressed by Stoner's ability to transfer the knowledge of his two-wheeled machines into a kart.
"Even though today was a relaxed fun day for Casey he was amazingly methodical and thorough in his feedback regarding set up changes and how the kart works," said Luciani, who has won six Australian and 48 State Championships during his 25-year karting career.
"There wasn't a session that he didn't ask for something to be altered so he could feel what affect the change made to the characteristics of the kart.
Stoner expects that now he has caught the karting bug that he won't be a stranger to kart circuits around the world in the future.
"It is very nice to go around with Remo and set the kart up and learn everything these karts can do," said Stoner.
"Remo has been the greatest help imaginable, he has been willing to travel hours to come and spend the day setting this kart up for me and help me out to test and really introduce me to this scene that I've been wanting to get involved in for a while.
"Remo's definitely been the guy to keep interested and has taught me everything that I know at the moment (about karting).
"Karting wise I'm planning to maybe do some racing in the future to hone my skills on four wheels and see how we go."
Stoner's focus will now turn towards regaining the World MotoGP Championship with pre-season testing being held at Sepang in Malaysia next week.
"I've been training very hard and people don't realise you really do need to put in a heck of a lot of effort into fitness for all forms of racing, it is certainly very tough on the world series and you have always got to be on top of your game," said Stoner.
The opening round of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship will be held in Qatar on April 12.
The next major Event on the Australian Karting Calendar is the Victorian Open Sprint Kart Championships to be held at the Hume International Raceway in Puckapunyal on February 13-15.