News 7 Apr 2010

MotoGP: Stoner in confident mood for Qatar season opener

Hayden and Stoner will be strong in 2010 with Ducati Marlboro.

Hayden and Stoner will be strong in 2010 with Ducati Marlboro.

Australian Casey Stoner is determined to reclaim the MotoGP World Championship in 2010, the Ducati Marlboro rider going for his fourth consecutive victory under lights at the Losail Circuit in Qatar this weekend.

Stoner lapped the circuit quickest in the final pre-season test of the year last month, putting him in good steed for a solid performance come race time this weekend.

“We have always enjoyed great results in Qatar although the track isn’t one of my favourites as a rider,” Stoner explained. “It was good that they changed the race from daytime to night because they’ve made it different to anything else – it’s interesting for the fans and it is good fun for us.

“Ducati have come up with a much more manageable engine for this season, it is easier for everybody to understand and from my point of view I am finding it easier to ride fast on used tyres.

“We have made progress with the set-up ever since the first test at Sepang and we’re happy with what we have going into the first race. I will give my maximum as always but it is only the first race of a very long season that will only start to take shape from the third or fourth round.”

The Ducati team sees former racer and test rider Vittoriano Guareschi take over the management role for this season, replacing Livio Suppo in the role.

“The past few months have flown by for me, especially because the 2009 season was barely over when we began working at full speed on the new engine and all the other new parts that have been added to the new bike,” Gaureshchi said of the new big-bang engine configuration.

“Our riders are both in good form – Casey has finally been able to enjoy a quiet winter without injuries to overcome and he has been fast throughout testing. Nicky [Hayden] has had some good tests, especially the last two sessions, and he is perfectly integrated into our working group. Now is the time for us to put it all onto the track for the first race but I’m confident in the work we have done so far.”

For Hayden, season 2010 is a make or break year that will see him determined to return as a contender for race victories and the title that he won in 2006 with Honda.

“Finally the first race is here! We seem to have started later than everybody else and I don’t know if I could have waited any longer,” joked the American favourite. “Testing went fairly well – we met some of our objectives and still have a lot of work to do in other areas but overall I’m satisfied. We established a good base setting in Qatar and hopefully we can use that for the first race. It has been a couple of years since I made a good start to the season but I feel in good shape, the team are fully behind me and I can’t wait to get started.”