MotoGP Sepang test: Casey Stoner upbeat after tough first day

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Reigning MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner remained in upbeat mood despite a tough first day of 2008 pre-season testing at the Sepang circuit.

The Aussie completed just 36 laps as his new Ducati GP8 was beset by an electronics problem that forced the 22-year-old and new team-mate Marco Melandri to spend most of the first morning kicking their heels in the pits as engineers frantically sought a solution.

Despite his limited track time, Stoner, who won last October's Sepang GP, still managed to clock the fifth fastest time 2.02.457. That was just over a second outside of Randy de Puniet's impressive best time, with Stoner mainly evaluating a new engine and two new Bridgestone rear tyres on the opening afternoon.

Stoner told MCN: "Something kept shutting down on the bike but they sorted it out. I don't know what the problem was but we got both bikes there for tomorrow now. I'm not stressed at all. I have faith in Ducati and all we need is time to sort things out.

"If you remember at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007 we had disastrous tests. I've never, ever had a good test at Sepang. Not on any bike so for us this is looking pretty damn good.

"We don't test well here but we race well here. We can't seem to get things right in testing."

Stoner said his early impressions of the bike Ducati hope will help beat off Honda and Yamaha again in 2008 were positive, saying the new motor had more bottom end power and drivability under acceleration out of corners. He was also testing a new more adjustable chassis, concentrating mainly on different swingarm pivot positions.

He added: "We just got to do a lot of tyre testing and sort this engine out. It's early but I feel like things are moving forward. As always when it's a new product you have to take time to iron out all the bugs. It can only get better and we can improve from here, go forward and get faster."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt