ESTORIL, October 5 – Former world champion Casey Stoner is hoping for a chilly reception at his home Australian Grand Prix, but that desire is nothing to do with the Phillip Island fans.
The 2007 title winner, who made his comeback after a three-race absence following a mystery virus with a blistering second-place finish at the Portuguese Grand Prix, believes the Australian weather could help his physical preparation.
"We didn’t expect to do this well and in fact up until a week and a half ago I still had similar problems to those I had two months ago," said Stoner, whose Ducati was just 6.2sec behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo.
"It was only a sodium diet and a few other things that seem to have helped. I’m hoping that we have discovered my low blood pressure levels to be the problem and we can look forward to Phillip Island and trying to be competitive there.
"I hope it is a bit colder than most of the tracks we go to as that might help my physical condition a bit more."
Stoner’s two-month absence from the championship, which saw him sit out races in the USA, Czech Republic and San Marino, meant an end to his 2009 title hopes with Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi poised to battle over the three remaining rounds.
But he defended his decision to take his extensive break.
"There was a lot of criticism of my decision to stop but people need to understand that if you are not competitive and you are getting worse every race there is no sense to just keep going," he told www.motogp.com.
"You have to stop, find the problem and fix it.
"So to come back like this and be more competitive than I have been in a long, long time it was a really good feeling.
"In the last five races I rode I was putting in so much effort and still slowing down at the end of the races, so today it was nice to be able to relax towards the end and still do a good lap time.
"I was nervous again today and I haven’t been nervous for a long time, so it is nice to be here again on the podium."