Stoner set to step up again

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

CASEY Stoner is chas­ing his fourth Phillip Is­land win in a row in this week­end’s Iveco Aus­tralian Mo­toGP. The Du­cati-mounted Aus­tralian has de­lighted the fans in the past three years and re­cent form sug­gests he’ll be a lead­ing con­tender for the top step of the podium again this year. He’ll be up against the usual sus­pects — Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi is in omi­nous form af­ter re­cov­er­ing from in­jury, and Jorge Lorenzo wrapped up the 2010 cham­pi­onship in Malaysia and won’t be wor­ried about rid­ing con­ser­va­tively for points. Dani Pe­drosa has also de­clared him­self a starter de­spite a bro­ken col­lar­bone in three places late last month. For Du­cati fans it will also be a chance to farewell their hero, with Stoner join­ing Pe­drosa in the Honda camp next year as the young racer chases his sec­ond world cham­pi­onship. The ac­tion doesn’t stop with the Mo­toGP, with three Aus­tralians — Ant West, Wayne Maxwell and Alex Cudlin — com­pet­ing in the sec­ond-tier Moto2 class, where rid­ers are free to use any chas­sis, but re­stricted to iden­ti­cal 600cc Honda en­gines. Westy is bril­liant at the Is­land, but is bat­tling an over­weight bike and will be hop­ing for rain to level the play­ing field, while Maxwell and Cudlin will be do­ing ev­ery­thing short of throw­ing the bikes down the road to im­press in their first Grand Prix out­ings. Sup­port classes in­clude the Aus­tralian Superbikes, Aus­tralian Su­pers­ports and His­torics. Gen­eral ad­mit­tance tick­ets for the three days start at $150, and en­try to Sun­day’s race day costs from $90. Go to www.mo­togp.com.au for more de­tails.

— Craig Duff

Win­ning run: Casey Stoner with the tro­phy af­ter last year’s vic­tory.

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