New MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner said he isn’t worried to be so far behind factory Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa at the end of the first day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Aussie was 0.820s adrift of Pedrosa in typically extreme conditions at Sepang that saw air temperatures hit over 30 degrees, with punishing humidity making it a gruelling start to the penultimate race of 2011.
Stoner, who clinched his second MotoGP crown on home soil at Phillip Island just five days ago, clocked a best time of 2.02.070.
But he said Pedrosa’s pace didn’t frighten him.
The Spaniard’s best time was set on Bridgestone’s soft compound rear tyre and Stoner said: "We're not too far off on race tyres. Dani did his lap times with a new soft rear, so it's basically qualifying. I'm not really worried about that. We know we've got the pace to get closer than that on race tyres, so I think we can maybe move forward and maybe even pass him tomorrow. The Hondas are going very well here, but we have to remember that (Ben) Spies isn't feeling too well and Jorge (Lorenzo) isn't here."
Honda occupied the top five places in Sepang today, with Colin Edwards the best of the rest in sixth. Pedrosa and Stoner were followed by Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama and asked if he could explain why the RC212V machine was so dominant, he added: "We were pretty successful at the beginning of the year in the tests. Traction is one thing that really worked for us here during pre-season. I noticed that a lot compared to what I was on last year. The bike works around here with a little better grip. If you get traction you can put the power to the ground. This track isn’t real grippy and conditions aren't very good at the moment. So it's probably why our bike is making the difference because we've maybe got a little more grip."