Friday, October 26

FANS FLOCKING TO THE ISLAND

By MICHAEL ESDAILE

THERE is no doubt Casey Stoner's imminent retirement from grand prix motorcycle racing has galvanised Australian motorcycle race fans into action, with what appears to be more spectators on hand for Friday practice than were at the track for qualifying on the Saturday last year.

We were in Cowes on Wednesday to get everything ready for the 22 Kiwi Rider readers who have joined us here, and the town was already buzzing.  This time last year it was very quiet.

Licence plates show riders have come from Western Australia - a good three day's ride away, with others from the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, as well as from the home state of Victoria.

All of the are bound by a common desire to see Casey Stoner strut his stuff one more time on a racing motorcycle at Phillip Island.

And the Repsol Honda rider has not disappointed. In just four flying laps he was down into the low 1m 31s bracket, hanging the tail out over Lukey Heights and down through the exit of the Southern Loop where turn three has been re-named Stoner Corner.