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GP Week : Issue 42
‘Over-confidence was my dow Stoner: QATAR GP winner Casey Stoner has blamed over-confidence for his unsuccessful title defence last year. Speaking before the desert race, he recalled how after winning the opening round, he had lost momentum with bad results at three of the next four races. “We’ve had a fantastic pre- season this year, but we had a really good pre-season in 2008 as well,”he said. “We came off the championship in ’07, we were very confident. And I think we overlooked a lot of problems.” This year’s approach would be different, he said. “I’m really trying to use the start of this season to fix as many of our problems as we can, so that when we do go into the middle of the season we’re not trying to fix them then.” The shorter practice sessions had made it all the more crucial. “It’s making things really difficult to have time to set the bike up. I think everyone’s kind of struggling with that,”he said. Top rookie Kallio lays Qatar ghost SELF-effacing and unassuming Finnish racer Mika Kallio has emerged as easily the top rookie of the year ahead, after just one race – not only outdistancing his fellow beginners but also finishing second Ducati, as he had in pre-season tests. The 26-year-old finished eighth after coming through from a poor start – well within his “top 10”pre-race target. The other two class rookies are his own Pramac Ducati team-mate Niccolò Canepa, and Scot Honda’s Yuki Takahashi. The latter, up from the junior class, was 15th, 14 scoring one point. Canepa was 17th and last, though in his defence he had never raced at Qatar, and is a complete grand prix newcomer. Last year, rookies excelled in the season- opening Qatar night race, with Jorge Lorenzo on pole and second in the race; while fellow newcomers Dovizioso and Toseland were fourth and sixth, straddling Rossi. Kallio’s adaptation to the Ducati has been impressive, especially since other riders continue to find the bike difficult. Former 125 and 250 specialist Kallio has taken to the big class. He enjoyed the power from his first test, and some have him down as a MotoGP natural. For the Finn, it meant revenge of a sort against his personal jinx at the Losail circuit; it was here that he lost his chance of the 125 title in 2005. Riding the factory KTM, his team-mate Gabor Talmacsi mistakenly pipped him for victory over the line, by less than two hundredths of a second. The five points he lost cost him the title – it went instead to Honda’s Thomas Luthi. After the race win two days later, he remained cautious. “I was leading the championship at the same time last year too,”he pointed out. But with wrist problems clearly not a factor, he added: “Mentally I feel very strong. My physical fitness could be better, but we have more of the season to get stronger. “The best idea is to try to have some better races throughout the season instead of just at the end.”