Sepang test: Casey Stoner thrilled at new Ducati performance

1 of 1

Casey Stoner declared himself thrilled after he kicked off 2009 by narrowly beating arch MotoGP rival Valentino Rossi to the fastest time in the three-day Sepang test.

Worried that a long winter lay-off to recover from major left wrist surgery might hinder his early track time in 2009, the Aussie was in stunning form to clock a best lap of 2.01.043 on the final day.

That edged out Yamaha rival and reigning world champion Rossi by just 0.094s as Stoner hailed the performance of Ducati’s new carbon fibre chassis.

He told MCN: “For a base setting at the moment I am very happy. The chassis is more understandable than any other one.

“In the past we had to work on two or three different settings to find one that worked. But it seems with this chassis that we make a change and we immediately understand why it works.

“I’m a lot happier with that and when it comes to a race, instead of wasting time trying things, I hope we can make those setting changes and get straight on the pace.

“It ended up not too bad and we made another big step today and got a little bit more grip and a little bit more feeling.

“We’re just starting to understand what this bike needs and we’re heading in the right direction rather than going on previous information from the GP8. We are slowly starting to learn how to make this bike work.”

Stoner said his performance was all the more special given the limitations of his recovering left wrist.

He still has minimal movement in the wrist after the bone graft operation and he added: “Considering the situation I’m in at the moment and considering how fast I am, it is like a dream and I never expected this.

“I’d still like my wrist to improve a bit more and when it does I’m sure I can go a bit better. Now I have to work hard on improving my physical condition and recovering the level of movement I need to ride the bike properly without pain.

“Now I know that I can step up training on my arm and hopefully the situation will have improved for the Qatar test. The GP9 is a good bike and in every test we’ve done with it we’ve come out on top.

“That doesn’t mean to say that we can afford to relax, though, and we’ll keep our heads down and keep working. I set pretty much the same lap time on both tyre compounds and I actually prefer the harder one.

“The fact we’ve gone to a single tyre rule doesn’t seem to have an adverse effect on the performance of the Bridgestones – they’re doing a great job, as usual.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt