(Reuters) - Confidence and time -- Casey Stoner knows both are in short supply as the double world champion prepares for his tilt at a record sixth successive Australian MotoGP victory.
Stoner needed surgery after breaking his right ankle in a crash during qualifying at Indianapolis in August and while he returned for the last two races in Japan and Malaysia, the 27-year-old knows he needs more time to fully recover.
With retirement looming in November, however, time is not on Stoner’s side.
“There is a bloody good reason why I can’t ride like I really want to,” the Honda rider told local media on Wednesday.
”I know I am not at 100 percent and, to win at this level, everything has to be very close to 100 percent to feel fantastic.
“So for Phillip Island, I really don’t know what to expect,” added Stoner, who said he felt as if something was “holding him back”.
Stoner, who has notched 37 MotoGP wins, finished fifth in Japan on his return from injury and while he took third in Malaysia last weekend, he admitted he lacked the confidence to challenge for the win in wet weather.
“The thing is I‘m not fully healed. Most people would have waited a lot longer before coming back and I should have but I can‘t. I haven’t got much time left before the end of my season,” said Stoner.
“If I was in much better shape and I crashed and hit my foot, it would not be a problem but, if I do that now, then I am going to put myself back another four or five months.”
“If I dislocate it again, I‘m in strife. We are talking broken ligaments - not just torn,” he added.
“Last Sunday in Sepang, I went thinking I’d just go around carefully, finish the race and not take any risks.”
Stoner, who is out of the championship race, will have Turn 3 at the Phillip Island track named after him at a ceremony on Thursday. His final MotoGP race is in Valencia next month.
Fellow Australian world motorcycling champions Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner also have portions of the track named after them at the circuit on the island southeast of Melbourne.
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo leads the standings on 330 points ahead of fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa of Honda on 307. Stoner is in third on 213 points.
Writing by Peter Rutherford in Singapore; Editing by