Casey Stoner admitted after the race at Motegi that he wasn’t yet physically strong enough to push for a podium finish.
Casey Stoner returned to MotoGP with a fighting fifth place at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, as the gritty Aussie admitted he wasn’t physically strong enough to launch a podium assault. The reigning world champion was confident he could have challenged for the podium in the 24-lap race, but having spent two months out of action with a serious ankle injury, Stoner couldn’t summon up the strength to finish higher than fifth.
It was still a hugely impressive ride from the double world champion, who made his comeback after missing three races following a vicious high-side crash at Indianapolis that left him with serious ligament damage in his right ankle. Still walking with a slight limp, Stoner admitted he was somewhat disappointed that his physical condition had prevented him from battling closer to dominant Spanish duo Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.
He had admitted in the build up to the race that his ankle had not recovered as quickly as he had anticipated and that he had been riding with plenty in reserve as another crash could lead to major complications if he hurt the ankle again.
Stoner, who will retire at the end of the season, said: “I’m a little disappointed because at the start of the race I thought I had the pace to go with Dani and Jorge. The bike was feeling good but as the race went on parts of my body were getting sore and physically I just didn’t have it. I had the pace to run a lot higher and to be on the podium, but physically I couldn’t manage it. I slowly improved over the weekend so it was disappointing to slip back so far.”
Casey Stoner continued to walk with a limp at Motegi as his right ankle injury still causes him pain.
Stoner said his ankle had got more painful as the weekend progressed and he had no idea how it will shape up to the extreme conditions that await the MotoGP paddock in Sepang later this week.
The punishing heat and humidity in Malaysia only make the physical demands of muscling a 250-horsepower MotoGP bike around the track even tougher and Stoner said: “Maybe this bit of work will be good for it and at the next race it might be better but I can only hope for that. I’ve been icing it and I’ll go and ice it again and try and get as good as I can for Malaysia. Physically it is a very demanding circuit, so I think it is going to be a lot tougher than this race in many ways. But at the same time with so many corners here where you have to pick the bike up quickly I have been struggling. Hopefully Malaysia is a little bit smoother and more flowing and I won’t have the same issues as this weekend. I have had some fairly good results there but it is wait and see.”
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