During the post-season Valencia Test in November, Casey Stoner reported how confident he was on the Repsol Honda RC212V. On the final day of the Valencia test, the Australian was fastest.
This confidence carried over into the opening day of the first official 2011 MotoGP test, as Stoner posted the quickest lap in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday. Following Stoner on the timesheets were reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo and Stoner’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa.
At his first official MotoGP outing of 2011 on the Ducati GP11, Valentino Rossi was 12th fastest. The nine-time World Champion was experimenting with different riding positions on the Desmosedici, attempting to find a comfort level while his shoulder continues to recover.
But there was nothing stopping Stoner at the first of three days at Sepang. He was the only MotoGP rider to break the 2:02 mark, and posted a best lap of 2:01.574.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda MotoGP) says: "Very positive day. 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. 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 few 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."
Stoner was 0.403 seconds ahead of Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Yamaha M1.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha MotoGP) says: "It’s been a good start today, we tried a few things and it seemed for everything we tried it was a little bit better, not big improvements but as I said in Valencia at the test last year, the 2011 bike seems to have less wheelie so we can open the throttle earlier in the corners and in some corners I have better corner speed as well.
"Today was my first ride wearing Alpinestars so there were a lot of things for me to get used to. We pushed a bit more towards the end of the session and got faster, we will continue to make the step tomorrow."
Third fastest of the day was another RC212V ridden by Dani Pedrosa. He was 0.047 behind Lorenzo. Like Rossi, Pedrosa also continues to recover from injury. But his collarbone appears not to be affecting his speeds at Sepang.
Honda reports Stoner and Pedrosa, along with its third rider Andrea Dovizioso, were testing new forks aboard their MotoGP machines.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda MotoGP) says: "I’m pretty happy with how things went today. My priority was to see how I was on the bike after so long without riding and the feeling has been positive.
"Obviously I still have less strength under braking and lack of stability in the shoulder with the direction changes, but the cramps have gone and this is very positive for me. We have time to continue with my physical training and gain the strength that I need for when the season starts.
"I honestly didn’t expect to do so many laps today. I started with the Honda 2010 to get the feeling back and because in the second half of the season our bike was competitive and we wanted to begin improving from there. Then I tried a new swingarm and a new chassis in the last two runs, and my best lap time has been with the new parts, so it’s also positive. The plan for tomorrow is to test the new engine."
Entering his sophomore year in MotoGP, Marco Simoncelli was fourth fastest and over seven-tenths of a second behind Stoner. Lorenzo’s new teammate, the American Ben Spies, was fifth fastest aboard the other factory Yamaha M1. He was 0.758 behind Stoner, and went down during the first hour of practice on Tuesday, but walked away uninjured.
With only two manufacturers in the top five, Suzuki took the sixth fastest spot with its sole MotoGP rider, Alvaro Bautista. He also enters his second year of MotoGP racing, and experimented with many new aspects on the GSV-R, including chassis, engine, suspension and electronics.
The next three riders were the last to lap within a second of Stoner: Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Dovizioso, and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
The fastest Ducati of the day rounded out the top 10, ridden by Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing Team), who was 1.578 off of Stoner.
As for the nine-time World Champion Rossi, he continued to focus on his riding positions to find comfort in his shoulder. Rossi rode a GP11 with a modified fuel tank, and was 12th fastest of the day. Rossi was 1.791 off Stoner’s time.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro MotoGP) says: "Rarely have I been this happy with a twelfth place, because after the test at Misano, we were pretty pessimistic considering how bad I felt there.
"It went better here though, especially in the morning, and we were able to do 20, 25 laps at a decent speed. Although we still have a lot of work to do, but we did a lot today: we worked on the riding position, and we’re starting to understand, among the many details that we can adjust on this bike, what the best solutions are.
"The Ducati’s DNA doesn’t need to be changed; we have to take advantage of the positive aspects and improve the others. Unfortunately, it became more difficult when I lost a lot of strength in the afternoon, but in the end I was able to do about fifteen more laps.
"Let’s say that at the moment, I have quite a bit of pain and not much strength, whereas the opposite would be preferable! The hardest parts are the straights and on hard braking into right corners, like Turn 1 and Turn 4; there alone I lose about a second, whereas the rest of the lap is okay, because compared to Valencia, I’m able to ride much better.
"It will be important to be able to rest well tonight in order to regain some mobility so that I can do 30 or 40 laps tomorrow. I’ll have a relaxing massage and put ice on it."
Rossi’s teammate, the last of three American riders Nicky Hayden, was 13th fastest.
The riders will be back on the Sepang track Wednesday for the second of three testing days.
2011 Sepang MotoGP Tests: Day 1 Results:
|Pos||Rider||Team||Fastest lap||Prev. Gap||Lead. Gap||Laps|
|1||Casey Stoner||Repsol Honda Team||2:01.574||–||–||0|
|2||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP||2:01.977||+0.403||+0.403||0|
|3||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda Team||2:02.024||+0.047||+0.450||0|
|4||Marco Simoncelli||San Carlo Honda Gresini||2:02.295||+0.271||+0.721||0|
|5||Ben Spies||Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP||2:02.332||+0.037||+0.758||0|
|6||Alvaro Bautista||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||2:02.422||+0.090||+0.848||0|
|7||Hiroshi Aoyama||San Carlo Honda Gresini||2:02.483||+0.061||+0.909||0|
|8||Andrea Dovizioso||Repsol Honda Team||2:02.507||+0.024||+0.933||0|
|9||Colin Edwards||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||2:02.514||+0.007||+0.940||0|
|10||Randy De Puniet||Pramac Racing Team MotoGP||2:03.152||+0.638||+1.578||0|
|11||Kousuke Akiyoshi||HRC Test Team||2:03.224||+0.072||+1.650||0|
|12||Valentino Rossi||Ducati Marlboro Team||2:03.365||+0.141||+1.791||0|
|13||Nicky Hayden||Ducati Marlboro Team||2:03.508||+0.143||+1.934||0|
|14||Loris Capirossi||Pramac Racing Team||2:03.695||+0.187||+2.121||0|
|15||Hector Barbera||Aspar Team||2:03.767||+0.072||+2.193||0|
|16||Cal Crutchlow||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||2:04.009||+0.242||+2.435||0|
|17||Toni Elias||LCR Honda MotoGP||2:04.238||+0.229||+2.664||0|
|18||Karel Abraham||Cardion AB Motoracing||2:04.470||+0.232||+2.896||0|
|19||T1||Yamaha Test Team||2:04.717||+0.247||+3.143||0|
|20||T2||Yamaha Test Team||2:05.235||+0.518||+3.661||0|