Stoner urges Rossi to step up to the plate in 2012 season

    Casey Stoner has been involved in 2012 pre-season testing on his Repsol Honda.

    Story highlights

    • Casey Stoner hopes Valentino Rossi will mount a challenge in 2012
    • Seven-time MotoGP champion Rossi without a win for Ducati last year
    • Stoner claimed second title with 10 wins for Repsol Honda
    • Australian sees Jorge Lorenzo as his main rival in coming season
    World champion Casey Stoner is urging seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi to put a disappointing 2011 behind him and mount a serious challenge on his Ducati this season.
    Italian legend Rossi failed to win a race for the first time in his glittering career as his works bike was way off the pace of Stoner's all-conquering Honda.
    But Stoner knows that the public want to see close racing and Rossi taking his accustomed place on the podium.
    "I'm hoping, for Ducati's sake, that they can put together a competitive bike this year because the championship needs it," the Australian told the official MotoGP website.
    "Regardless of what the riders want, everyone needs as many manufacturers at the front as possible. Yamaha and Honda want competition; unfortunately Kawasaki and Suzuki are gone from the championship, so we need all bikes at the front."
    Stoner doubled up on his 2007 title success as he claimed 10 victories last season to take the title off Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo and he sees the Spaniard as his main rival again in 2012.
    "Jorge was first in 2010 and second in 2011, he will always be there fighting. All the factory guys as well as Andrea (Dovizioso) will be pushing up there on the Tech 3 Yamaha, it's the same crew as in the past," Stoner said.
    Stoner's wife Adriana is expecting a baby before the start of the new season in Qatar on April 8.
    "Adriana is doing great. We just want these last few weeks to go as smooth as possible. I hope I can be home for the birth as it's due right in the middle of both tests, so I'm crossing my fingers I can be home for it," he added.