“It is going to be a bloody close race”
Honda LCR rider Casey Stoner is predicting a close contest after qualifying eighth fastest for his home race, the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Stoner was in a buoyant mood after a strong run on qualifying tyres
for the third row of the grid -- and an impressive performance on race tyres in the morning free practice session.
Following overnight set-up changes, and a choice of different Michelin tyres today, Stoner was much more positive about his potential in tomorrow's race.
Stoner's fastest lap in free practice was just 0.3s off the best time set by Carlos Checa.
Fine and sunny weather made for near perfect track conditions in qualifying.
“I think it is going to be a bloody close race up front. Hopefully I can get a good start, although there is not a big run to turn one. I like the Island track but there is not a lot of passing room, you have to be aggressive on the first lap and then be patient as the race unfolds. I usually suck in qualifying so I'm pretty happy with today -- the set-up worked really well on both race and qualifying tyres. Michelin gave us some different tyres today and I did my fastest race lap on one those this morning, but some others did not work and confused us.
Melandri held me up on one lap in qualifying but we got some good set-up information from that, so everything is looking OK for the race.”
“I'm very happy with the performance of the team today especially as we lost some time with tyre grip problems yesterday. Today was a big step forward and on race set-up Casey is very strong. I'm absolutely not worried about Casey starting from eighth -- I'm sure he is ready for a very good race.”