Reigning world champion Casey Stoner is confident he will be battling for pole position in Catalunya tomorrow, despite finishing the opening day of practice down in a lowly sixth position.
The Australian set a best time of 1.42.775 this morning and didn’t improve in scorching hot conditions this afternoon to finish 0.676s behind closest title rival Jorge Lorenzo.
With track temperatures soaring to over 50 degrees this afternoon, the Repsol Honda rider opted to exclusively use the hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre option to gain crucial data on endurance in such extreme heat.
Most of the field set their best times on the softer option and Stoner told MCN: “Did anybody notice that everybody put the soft tyre in at the end of the session? It is a huge difference between a used hard and a new soft. The lap times at the end are nothing to go by. The real times are with the hard tyres. I struggled a little at the beginning when I should have got the best out of the hard tyres, so were tried a couple of changes to reduce the chatter but we didn't go in the right direction. But we are not too far off and things look worse they really are. It is confusing as to why everybody wasted a soft tyre in the afternoon. Everybody knew they weren't happy with the soft but then decide they what to do a lap time which cuts out a soft tyre they can't use on Saturday. It's a little confusing but this is their decision."
Stoner, who dropped a bombshell in France last month by announcing he will retire at the end of 2012, was also plagued by chatter again today.
The vibration issue has been a major headache for Stoner and HRC technical staff, who have yet to come up with a solution to rid the RC213V of the problem.
The double MotoGP world champion added: "There’s still a lot of rear chatter, especially in the long corners here. It is quite bad. With one set-up this afternoon on corner entry when I release the brakes and before opening the throttle, I had a lot of front chatter. I was running wide in the small corners, but once I picked up the throttle I could get the bike to turn. The chatter is not as bad as it has been but as the weekend goes on it will get worse because it was worse this afternoon compared to the morning. We need to pay attention to it.”
Asked whether the sweltering heat was a big factor in generating chatter, Stoner added: “We don't know if it is the heat or more grip with rubber from Moto2 and Moto3.We shouldn't have to worry about such variables being so sensitive to the bike and that's what we need to reduce."