Casey Stoner ends Valencia test fastest

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MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner ended the first test session in preparation for the 2008 season in Valencia today with the fastest time.

Riding a slightly modified version of his 2007 factory Ducati, the impressive Australian was dominant all day as he completed 55 laps.

His GP7 ran a modified engine management system setting as he posted a best time of 1.32.095. That was 0.339sec clear of former world champion Nicky Hayden, who clocked his best time on his 2007 Honda RC212V.

The American continued to be plagued by engine problems today on the new 2008 Honda contender, and he was 0.5s faster on his old machine.

Casey Stoner was untouchable though as he also tested a new set of Ohlins front forks. He completed 19 laps in the 1.32 bracket and his best time shaved a massive 0.7sec off Dani Pedrosa’s lap record that the Spaniard set in last Sunday’s Valencia MotoGP.

Casey Stoner was testing the new electronics in advance of his next track appearance later this month in Jerez, when he rides the new 2008 Ducati for the first time.

Ducati will skip next week’s Sepang test while they build-up Casey Stoner and Marco Melandri’s new GP8 machines, and the Jerez session will also see the 22-year-old up against Valentino Rossi on the same tyres, following the Italian’s switch from Michelin.

Casey Stoner, who did a 1.33.373 on only his second lap this morning, said: “It’s been a good test and now we can properly look forward to 2008.

“We had a couple of things to confirm and analyse for next year, and now I’m really looking forward to seeing what Ducati roll out for 2008. I’m confident that we will have a package that was just as strong as this year.

“It’s a shame that we didn’t have this set-up for the race on Sunday because I’m confident we could have challenged a lot stronger for the victory.”

New team-mate Marco Melandri was 13th fastest today, posting a best time of 1.33.835. That was 0.6s faster than he managed on his debut yesterday.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt