Stoner tips 2012 to be closer

Autosport

Casey Stoner believes the 2012 MotoGP title race will prove to be more competitive than the dominant campaign he achieved last year.

Stoner claimed his second world title, and his first for Honda, at a canter last year, winning 10 races and claiming 12 pole positions along the way. He then topped four out of the five pre-season test days he was present in - a rain-hit second day at Jerez the only time he finished off the top spot.

Stoner said such momentum made his positive for the forthcoming season, but that he expected more riders to be challenging for victory at each race.

"After good pre-season tests in both Sepang and Jerez, we head to Qatar feeling positive," the Australian said.

"I'm excited to get the season started and fight for another World Championship, but this is a new season and there are more competitors contesting for victory this year."

Despite also winning four of the last five Qatar grands prix, Stoner said there was still a lot of work to do in order to dial in the new 1000cc bikes. The Australian suffered chattering complaints throughout testing.

"We still have work to do," he explained. "We've always enjoyed good results at the Losail circuit but this will be the first time with the new bike on this circuit so we will need to spend some time on the set-up to put ourselves in the best position."

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