Casey Stoner is looking to move a step closer to securing his second world championship title by picking up an eighth win of the season at Sunday’s San Marino Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old, who moved from Ducati, with whom he won the title in 2007, to Honda this year, has been the stand-out rider of the season winning seven of the 11 Grand Prix to date.
He now holds a 44-point lead over reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the championship standings.
It is enough for Stoner now to play safe and shadow Lorenzo through the final six races but with 10 podium finishes on the bounce there is no indication that the Australian is about to ease back on the throttle.
“I’m looking forward to going to San Marino and seeing how competitive we can be,” he said.
“In 2007 and 2008 we were fast there, then I missed 2009 through illness and last year we struggled a little so we’ve had a mixed bag of results.
“It’s a nice track, I like the two corners off the end of the back straight, they’re a lot of fun and very fast.”
Stoner will face a stiff battle not just from Lorenzo’s Yamaha but from his own Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, who won in Portugal and Germany and finished second behind Stoner in the last race at Indianapolis.
“I know Dani and Jorge will be very fast there, but I’m coming off the back of three wins and in a strong position in the championship so we’ll see what we can do. I’m confident we can get a good result.”
That optimism is spread across the Honda team with Pedroso also looking to improve on his current fourth position in the standings. “After the good race we had at Indy, we arrive at Misano in a very positive mood,” he said.
“Misano is a track where you need good acceleration and hard braking, so this will be our priority to start working on with the bike setting.”
Outside the race, it is also likely to be an emotional weekend as it marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic death of the Japanese Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa during last year’s race.