News 2 Feb 2011

Stoner starts 2011 on top after day one at Sepang

Aussie Casey Stoner was quickest during testing on day one at Sepang.

Aussie Casey Stoner was quickest during testing on day one at Sepang.

Casey Stoner’s progress on the Repsol Honda RC212V continued at a rapid rate on Tuesday when the Australian rider topped the opening day timesheet at the official MotoGP Test at Sepang in Malaysia.

Posting a best lap of 2:01.574 – the only sub-2:02 effort – at the very end of the day Stoner was 0.403s faster than world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who had been sat at the summit of the timings on his factory Yamaha M1 prior to his rival’s late lap.

“At the beginning it took some time to get used to the bike again, but I soon felt comfortable and we had a good day,” Stoner commented.

“We didn’t change the set-up too much compared to the one we had in Valencia and I am pleased to see that even if the circuit is different, it still works pretty well here in Sepang.

“We did some work later on with the engine braking to decrease some chattering and looks like we found a good solution.

“In the next two days we will start testing something new, but anyway for me, it was a very good way to come back on track after the winter break.”

Indeed the RC212V performed well on day one, with Stoner’s teammate Dani Pedrosa third at just under five-hundredths of a second behind second position and showing little or no signs of hesitance with regards to his still recovering collarbone.

The Spaniard, Stoner and third Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso, who placed eighth on the timesheet, were all testing various front forks on their bikes, whilst the Italian rode the 2011 chassis for the first time.

Marco Simoncelli, the HRC supported San Carlo Honda Gresini rider now entering his second season in the premier class, was fourth at marginally over seven-tenths off Stoner’s marker, with Ben Spies completing the top five.

The American took his factory M1 round in a best time 0.758s off the top time, having escaped uninjured from a fall inside the opening hour of the first day’s riding.

On the track he scored his equal best result in his rookie MotoGP season in 2010 Álvaro Bautista, who is this year tasked with developing the GSV-R as Rizla Suzuki’s sole rider, was sixth fastest as he worked through a range of new aspects including chassis, engine, suspension and electronics.

Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Dovizioso, and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were the final riders to get within a second of Stoner, whilst Randy de Puniet was the highest placed Ducati rider in the opening day order in tenth position, 1.578s off top spot.

Riding the recently unveiled Desmosedici GP11 but with a modified fuel tank was Valentino Rossi, whose main focus was on his riding position as he continues to adapt his style to his recovering right shoulder.

The Italian was 12th on the timesheet, leading a spate of Ducatis with factory teammate Nicky Hayden, Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi, and Aspar Team’s Héctor Barberá following in the order.

British rookie Cal Crutchlow, with a similar shoulder hindrance to Rossi, was 16th on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 bike, just under 2.5s off top spot as he continues to make the transition to MotoGP.

LCR Honda’s Toni Elías was just behind, as he rode a 2010 factory RC212V chassis with a 2011 engine, and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) completed the field, riding two different Desmosedici machines for comparison.

HRC’s testing workload was supplemented by the presence of Kousuke Akiyoshi, whilst Yamaha also had two test riders on track.