Casey Stoner looking for big improvement

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Former world champion Casey Stoner had a troublesome start to the Malaysian GP in Sepang.

The Aussie, who celebrated his 23rd birthday yesterday, finished third on the combined free practice timesheets today, with his factory Ducati again troubled by a rear pumping issue.

Stoner, who dominated his home race in Phillip Island earlier this month, ended with a best time of 2.02.970 to finish 0.303s adrift of fastest man Colin Edwards.

He said: “Today was annoying. This afternoon’s session was ridiculous because it was constantly spitting with rain and most of the time too much to really push or get any information back.

"It was quite a frustrating afternoon but I hope with the couple of laps we got some info from we can improve the bike for tomorrow. Other than that it was a difficult day and the bike is not working perfectly. We had similar issues in Phillip Island but by Sunday we’d worked them out, so hopefully it will be the same here. The bike is pumping again on the rear.

"We have struggled with his construction tyre all year and there are only a few tracks that we have to use it on for this temperature range. This construction, all the other bikes seem to work a little bit better and we are not getting enough weight on the rear, so it caused the bike to pump and move.

"I hope we can find a solution but at the moment it is very difficult to ride. This morning it was pumping a lot and this afternoon was the same, but we only got a couple of good laps in so we can’t really understand what is going on.”

Stoner denied that tricky track conditions had contributed to the problem, with heavy rain yesterday followed by a light drizzle in this afternoon’s second session.
He said: “I don’t think the track condition is that bad but it was very hot this morning and with so much rain it is probably washing the track a lot.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt