4 Jan 2011

Stoner under pressure within and outside Honda

9:18 am on 4 January 2011

Former MotoGP motorcycle world champion Casey Stoner has come under pressure from within and outside his new Honda team even before he has turned a wheel in anger.

While Honda chiefs have said publicly 2010 was unacceptable, Stoner's compatriot and MotoGP kingmaker Jerry Burgess expects Honda to be the team to topple this year.

Burgess, the South Australian crew chief instrumental in the world titles of Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, says Stoner could stand in the way of Rossi's ambitions with Ducati.

Stoner moved to Ducati after a debut season in the premier class with Honda in 2006 and immediately won the 2007 world title.

But a combination of poor form and illness prevented him from producing his best form last season.

He has now switched back to Honda while Rossi took up his spot after leaving Yamaha, where he collected four world titles.

Burgess, who has followed Rossi to Ducati, says Honda will be a major stumbling block, despite not having won a world crown since 2006.