Stoner aims for four-in-a-row at Dutch GP

Australia’s 2007 world champion Casey Stoner goes into Saturday’s Dutch MotoGP looking to make it four wins on the bounce and cement his place at the top of the standings.

The Honda rider, who won in Assen three years ago, leapfrogged defending champion Jorge Lorenzo to take over top spot in the title race after winning the British GP at a rainy Silverstone on June 12.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Assen,” said Stoner.

“It’s a nice track, the first section is a little slow and doesn’t do too much for me but the last part is a lot of fun.

“I believe the RC212V will work well for us there as it has done at all circuits so far this season.

“We will work hard to get the set up right on the bike and hope to challenge for another win.” Lorenzo crashed out at Silverstone to end a run of 25 top four finishes and is now 18 points behind Stoner. But the Spaniard is eager to mark Yamaha’s 50th anniversary of grand prix racing with a win at a circuit where he triumphed 12 months ago.

“Assen is my favourite track where I’ve won in all categories and also last season,” said Lorenzo. “This year it is very special coming here because we celebrate the 50th anniversary.

“Now we are in second position in the championship, we come here looking to put pressure on the leader. I need to do the same job as I’ve done before with maximum effort. The team is focused and I wish to come back to finish at least on the podium.” The Stoner-Lorenzo duel will be shadowed closely by the Italian pair Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) and Valentino Rossi (Ducatti), who lie third and fourth in the championship respectively and in need of some serious points if they are not to be dropped from the title race.

Rossi still hasn’t won a race this season and is now on his longest run of races without victory since 2000. But he enjoys the track, known as The Cathedral to race fans, having won here five times. He missed last year’s race because of injury.

“It is going to be difficult. We know it will be some time before we see the full potential of this machine but we are motivated by the work that we have done,” said Rossi.

One major absentee from the race will be Stoner’s teammate Dani Pedrosa who broke his collarbone in a fall at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans last month and needed further surgery last week after a fragment of bone came loose.

The 25-year-old Spaniard, who now lies fifth in the standings, has already missed his home race in Barcelona and the British Grand Prix. He will be replaced by the Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama. — Sapa-AFP

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