Stoner predicts wide open 2009

Casey Stoner thinks his and Valentino Rossi's recent domination of MotoGP could be ended in 2009, with the 2007 champion predicting a much more open contest this season

Stoner predicts wide open 2009

Rossi and Stoner have monopolised the race wins while battling for the title in the past two years, winning 29 out of 36 grands prix between them.

But Stoner does not think they will retain that advantage over the pack this season. He has been impressed by Suzuki's strong testing form and also expects improved performances from Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden - and possibly a challenge from Dani Pedrosa if he can rapidly recover from his winter injuries.

"This year you never know what's going to happen," said Stoner at Losail today.

"We've seen Chris (Vermeulen) and Loris (Capirossi) being very competitive on the Suzuki. Jorge's been very competitive. We haven't seen Dani's potential because of his injury. Andrea now has a factory bike and there's my new team-mate too."

Stoner was fastest in most of the pre-season tests, but thinks winter form will prove irrelevant.

"I don't think anybody has really showed what they can do," he said. "We know that when the race starts all the crap stops, so we'll just have to see what everyone's made of."

He also reiterated that the wrist problem that blighted the second half of his 2008 season and the initial winter tests was now resolved.

"No worries about my wrist," Stoner insisted. "Everything's been getting a lot better recently. I still haven't got the movement that I want in it, but it doesn't seem to be causing too many problems and the pain has gone away in the last two tests.

"After the first night of the Qatar test we were able to ride pretty much at 100 per cent. Since then it's given me no grief and I'm pretty sure we'll be able to just concentrate and try to get this championship underway at a reasonable level so we can try not to have to play catch-up."

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