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Sat Apr 19 21:37:06 SAST 2014

Dutch four-timer beckons for Stoner

Sapa-AFP | 28 June, 2012 09:010 Comments
MotoGp Of Holland: Preview
Casey Stoner of Australia and Repsol Honda Team greets the journalists during the press conference pre-event of the MotoGp Of Holland at TT Circuit Assen on June 27, 2012 in Assen, Netherlands
Image by: Mirco Lazzari gp / Getty Images

Jorge Lorenzo lines up for Saturday’s Dutch MotoGP aiming to succeed where Casey Stoner failed by making it four wins on the bounce.

Stoner turned up at Assen 12 months ago as the rider in form but missed out when beaten by Ben Spies in the only race of the season to be held on a Saturday.

  One year on and Lorenzo, who is level with Stoner on 42 wins, is the man to beat after Yamaha’s Spanish ace reeled off wins in France, Catalunya, and Silverstone.

  That run of form has left the man from Mallorca at the top of the riders’ standings on 140 points, 25 points clear of Honda’s defending world champion Stoner.

  Since Stoner’s solitary win here in 2008 it has been all Yamaha, with Valentino Rossi’s win in 2009, Lorenzo a year later and then Spies, the American’s first and to date sole success in MotoGP.

  “The place of your first Grand Prix win will always be unique,” said the Texan, struggling this season in 11th in the overall standings.

  He added: “We’ve had a tough start to the year but have made good steps forward so I’m confident that we can step up and be fighting for the podium this weekend.”  Lorenzo, who signed a new two year contract with Yamaha before Silverstone, is looking forward to Holland, where he has won in all three divisions.

  “Assen with Brno are the tracks where I’ve enjoyed most success,” said the Spaniard.

  “Assen is good for our bike and it suits my riding style so let’s see what happens. Our target remains to be on the podium each race and if possible take a win.”  For Stoner this is the Australian’s farewell to Assen after shocking the MotoGP grid by announcing his retirement at the end of the season at the French Grand Prix.

  He will be hoping to go one better than in 2011 when he competed despite falling heavily in practice on the eve of the race.

  “We’ve had some great results in Assen, but also some pretty bad ones, so hopefully we can go there this weekend, be competitive and avoid any injury like last year when I hurt my neck, which followed us for the season and still causes me problems now,” he said.

  “That neck injury remained with me for the rest of last season and I’m still suffering from it,” he recounted.

  Assen, round seven of the 2012 season, features one of the shortest straights on the MotoGP calendar prompting Stoner to observe: “You spend a lot of the time on the edge of the tyre and unfortunately on our bike at the moment this is a weak point.

  “So we will need to work on Thursday and Friday to improve before we can consider ourselves competitive there.

  “With three races back to back, it’s important to get some good results at Assen, Sachsenring and Mugello, so we need to remain focused.”

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Dutch four-timer beckons for Stoner

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