Stoner straight to the top at Sepang II

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The second official MotoGP pre-season test of the year got underway at Sepang in Malaysia on Tuesday, when world champion Casey Stoner was last on track but soon on top of the rain-interrupted timesheets.

The Repsol Honda star, the only person to dip under the two-minute mark at the first test earlier this month, took to the track almost one-hour after the 10am start, but was ahead by half-a-second by his fourth lap.

Further improvements kept the Australian on top, with his position effectively confirmed by a rain storm from 2-3pm. Sweltering sunshine later returned, but most riders - Stoner included - elected against running in the wet or using slicks later in the day, when the track was almost fully dry.

Stoner's best lap of 2m 1.761s was set on his eighth of 16 laps, but just over two seconds slower than his best time at the first test.

“The track was at its hottest, 57 degrees, when I set my best lap time,” said Stoner. “So I have no doubt we could have gone 1-1.5sec faster [without the rain]. Everyone would have been closer to the pace at the first test.”

Turning to the technical revisions for his new RC213V, Stoner explained:

“We tried something different with brake discs, to try and stop a little bit of brake fade that we sometimes have when we have a shake on the bike. Where we lose the brakes going into the next corner. That improved a little bit.

“We also tried a couple of settings to compare between the same chassis' that we've now got. We found some small improvements and did some more comparison, then shortly after lunch it started pouring down with rain and that just about ended the day.”

The pressing issue for Stoner and team-mate Dani Pedrosa at the first Sepang test had been a chatter (vibration) problem prompted by the latest specification of Bridgestone tyres.

Stoner stated that he hadn't yet had chance to work through their ideas to improve the situation.

“No [progress] on the chatter unfortunately,” he said. “We've got things to try for that, which we could have tried this afternoon, but we'll now probably try tomorrow.”

Stoner and team-mate Pedrosa have each picked a chassis to use on both their bikes at Sepang II. A decision on if a further chassis design will be needed to cure the chatter will only be made once all set-up options have been exhausted.

“We've got a couple of things to change the stiffness and move the weight around, to try and upset the chatter - take away the frequency - and see what we can do,” said Stoner.

“There's no point bringing a new chassis until we try every available option we have with this one. We've get some options to try. If they don't work we might have to go in another direction.”

Stoner became a father for the first time on February 16, when wife Adriana gave birth to a baby girl, Alessandra. Stoner admitted it was hard to leave home.

“I'm sure every parent can agree with me,” he said. “I know now what most people feel like that have to leave their children at home and we'll have to do that for a while. We've got a very privileged life, but we've still got to say goodbye. It's been a nice week and half getting to know her.”

Closest to Stoner on the Tuesday timesheets was Pedrosa, whose best time was 0.244sec slower. Third fastest was Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo (+0.675sec), who was the only other rider within a second of Stoner.

Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies (+1.068sec), Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista (+1.198sec), Ducati's Nicky Hayden (+1.371sec), Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow (+1.452sec), Ducati's Valentino Rossi (+1.484sec), Pramac Ducati's Hector Barbera (+1.851sec) and LCR Honda rookie Stefan Bradl (+12.059sec) completed the top ten.

The top CRT of Colin Edwards (Suter-BMW) was twelfth, a much-improved 3.749sec from Stoner and 1.6sec from eleventh placed Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha Tech 3).

Ducati test rider Franco Battaini (+3.802sec) and Avintia FTR-Kawasaki team-mates Ivan Silva (+6.3sec) and Yonny Hernandez (+7.0sec) filled the remaining places on the 15 rider timesheet.

Absent was Cardion AB's Karel Abraham, who was side-lined by a back problem relating to his recent accident in private testing at Jerez and may miss the rest of the test.

Pedrosa, Rossi, Dovizioso and Bradl were among the few riders to try some wet weather laps on the new 1000cc bikes.
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