Champion Stoner relaxed for MotoGP title defence
The Australian is confident he can be even better on this year's Ducati and expects new team mate Marco Melandri to push him hard.Updated: Jan 08, 2008 17:42 IST
World MotoGP champion Casey Stoner feels more relaxed ahead of his title defence than he did a year ago on the eve of his stunning breakthrough season in motorcycling's top flight.
The Australian, who won ten races last year en route to the title in only his second season in MotoGP, is confident he can be even better on this year's Ducati and expects new team mate Marco Melandri to push him hard.
"I love this team. I dream of staying here. Now I am calmer than a year ago. It is like I've had a weight lifted off my shoulders. The pressure was very heavy," the 22-year-old Stoner told reporters on Tuesday at the presentation of the new Ducati bike at Italy's Madonna di Campiglio ski resort.
"Now I know I can go even better and that we can repeat it. But if Marco Melandri races faster than me and he wins, I'll be happy for him. He's got talent and he will prove it to us."
Melandri, who joins from Honda, accepts that Stoner is the team's main rider.
"Casey Stoner has won the world title on this bike and therefore I expect to be number two. I am new and it would be stupid to think of coming to the team of the world champion and being number one," the Italian said.