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GP Week : Issue 39
Stoner gives his wrist the thumbs-up > Moto GPnews > CASEY Stoner has promised there will be no lingering wrist problems once the racing begins, scotching previous doubts that the slow-healing operation to his left scaphoid might even prevent him racing at all. The 2007 World Champion has yet to run full race distance at any of the tests, and was also contenting himself with relatively short runs of eight or ten laps at Jerez. But while he said the joint was still painful and lacking in movement, he was on the mend, and an accelerating programme of training would see him fit to race when the season begins at Qatar in two weeks. The trouble began at the end of last season, when a previously broken and repaired scaphoid bone began to disintegrate. Stoner raced on in pain, and went under the surgeon’s knife directly after the last race of the season. In the five months since, recovery had been slow, and at early tests in Sepang and Qatar he complained of pain and stiffness, and difficulty in running more than a few laps in succession. At Jerez, however, he said he was now improving much more quickly, and the wrist gave him no trouble while riding. More difficult was the fact he had been unable to train fully, and his upper-body strength was somewhat lopsided as a result. “It’s getting stronger and stronger now, and I am able to train fully. With two weeks to go to the first race, it will be a lot better by the first race. “I don’t think it will be any problem.” Hayden “better than feared” but still struggling NICKY Hayden’s worst fears have not come to pass – that, like Melandri last year, he would find the Ducati almost impossible to ride fast. But the 2006 World Champion was far from satisfied with progress in learning how to get the best out of the new and potentially difficult Desmosedici. “I was somewhat nervous that it would be a complete disaster, but at least for me that’s not the case,” he said, after placing 11th overall at tests, while Stoner was fastest and almost 1.8 seconds ahead, and class rookie Mika Kallio on the satellite Pramac Ducati team placed sixth. “It’s good that I’m somewhat competitive. But I’m obviously not where I want to be.” Like other riders, Hayden was finding the machine very sensitive to settings and less predictable than the Honda he has ridden throughout his MotoGP career. “The bike always feels different. Just one click of setting changes and it could be a different bike. “Another thing is that the carburetion adjusts itself constantly, so one lap doesn’t feel exactly the same as another.” Stoner has frequently said, commenting on Melandri’s back- of-the-grid problems: “You just have to get the settings right, then the bike is fine. It’s not a one-rider bike.” But he at least partially agreed with Hayden’s analysis. At Jerez, he said: “You can push the Ducati very hard, but if the settings are not right, it can be a disaster … really difficult. Like yesterday, we were a little off and I really needed to improve. But working through with our method we found a better direction and it made a big difference. “Sometimes it is extremely sensitive … one click can make a big difference. Other times it’s not like that. This year’s bike is a little bit better in that way.” 19