Despite a brake problem consigning him to fourth in the Japanese Grand Prix, Casey Stoner remains confident of the potential of the Ducati GP09 and his chances of regaining the world championship title.
Talking to the press on the eve of this weekend's race in Jerez, Stoner explained his problems in Motegi and why he hopes he might even be able to break his duck on the Spanish track in the top class.Q. Were your problems in Motegi related to the new chassis or were they independent of it?Casey Stoner:
They were completely independent of it. We haven't had any problems with the chassis. As I went out on the start of my warm-up lap I had a lot of shuddering in the front brakes. We don't really understand why.
I had similar problems to this at the end of the race in Qatar, but that was due to the tyre slipping around the rim and it went out of balance so... it was similar to this. I thought; 'Oh no the wheel has already slipped, and I am going to have chattering the whole race'.
But as I came onto the grid and I pulled gently on the brakes the front-end was dipping, so basically there must have been some problem with the discs and the pads. Either there was a chunk out of the disc that wore away, or I don't know what it was.
At the beginning of the race there was no consistency in the braking, it was inconsistent going in and I lost the front a couple of time, so I lost all my confidence, and everybody started piling past me. I was pretty much lucky to stay where I did with not more people filing past me.Q. Did you understand what the problem was, did you talk with Brembo?CS:
At the end of the race we checked everything. We could see on the data that there was a problem, but because in the last seven or eight laps there wasn't a problem they couldn't see where it had come from. If it was a problem with the disk then it had been worn away. We could see it on the data but we can't find anything.Q. So the problem wasn't for the whole race?CS:
For the last seven or eight laps it was much better. It started to get better in the middle of the race, it was just in the beginning that I lost time. I lost so much confidence. Even if it had only been for a few laps it wouldn't have been that much of an issue but because it was when it was, I lost all my confidence and I didn't want to crash in the early stages.
I thought at least if it becomes better then I can start to improve, which I did, but we had lost too much time by then.Q. What are your feelings for this race?CS:
For this race we are a lot more confident than we have been in the past. Last year was obviously a disaster with the setting we had and in the race. This year I feel a little bit more confident. We had a good setting here in testing, but we know the track conditions change all the time so we are going to have make sure this setting still works and we will try and improve it from there. I think we could be in with a shout for at least a podium which is a better result than we have ever had here.Q. At the test here you said top five would be the limit of your ambitions, would you say top three now then?
I would say top three yeah. We were very confident in the test, the bike was working so well. We've always had a problem since we went to 800s on this circuit, and it was feeling much better in the test. I think we should look forward to this race and see if it we can't get the set-up a little bit better. Especially not having so much track time now, but hopefully it will stay dry and I can concentrate a bit more on it, but I'm feeling good.Q. If you get a better result here on Sunday, what do you think that will mean for the rest of the season?CS:
We got second last year at Motegi, but this year's was a much better result than 2007, and this year we haven't finished… I think fifth or sixth was my best result at Jerez, in 2007, and 11th last year, so we have got to look at the positives and know that we are going to take more points away from here than we have in the past. So as long as we finish the race, we should be in a reasonably good position.Q. Would you agree with what Valentino said about there being four of you out there that can win any of these races?CS:
I'm going to say the same thing I always have - don't count your chickens. You don't know who is going to be competitive. There is still Andrea (Dovizioso) who put up a pretty good fight for most of that race, Colin (Edwards) who has been running pretty well this year, Nicky (Hayden) who hasn't been able to show himself because of bad luck. So people should just leave their opinions at home, watch the race and enjoy it.Q. Are you enjoying the fight with more riders?CS:
I mean it was nice to watch it in Motegi, but I kind of wish I was a little bit closer. I thought at one point I would have been able to track them down, but I wasn't able to go that much quicker. We had a loss of confidence at the beginning when the tyres were a little better maybe, and we struggled at the end with the light fuel load. To come away with a fourth position with the way the race started, we did alright.Q. Can you see yourself riding defensively here?CS:
No. You only really start defending at the end of the season when you are in a good position. This race, and the first half of the season is attacking, to the point where if it's too much then back off and settle for what you can.Q. You must feel a lot more confident this year, now that you are in the ballpark right from the start?CS:
Last year we started off with a real big spring in our step and everyone overlooked the problems that we had. But this year is so much better. We have got a lot more confidence in the engine, we have got a lot more torque. In Motegi we had struggled in the past with acceleration in the corners. Last year I was running first year out of some of the corners, this year I was in second. We are definitely feeling more confident in the package that we have got now.