German MotoGP: Casey Stoner seeks braking improvement

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Casey Stoner reckons he needs to improve braking performance with his factory Ducati GP10 machine to strengthen his bid for a first MotoGP victory since October.

The 24-year-old hasn’t won since the Sepang race in Malaysia at the end of the 2009 campaign but he made a good start to the German Grand Prix at the tight and twisty Sachsenring circuit.

The 2007 world champion finished in second place with a best time of 1.22.795 leaving him trailing Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa by 0.274s.

And while content with his opening practice performance, Stoner said: “I'm pretty happy. The bike is working well and has got pretty good grip, which we can improve a little but the main issue is under heavy braking. I’ve got some stability issues."

Stoner told MCN the braking issues were not similar to those he experienced when he finished third at the recent Catalunya MotoGP race in Barcelona.

He added: “In Barcelona we couldn't get the bike to stop. It didn't matter whether we went stiffer or softer in the front, we just couldn't get it to pull up quick enough.

"Here it is pulling up quick enough but we have stability issues at the front. It is pumping a little bit and every bump in the corner I'm feeling.  This is mainly with the hard front tyre. It is better with the soft front tyre. 

"On the hard front tyre I use more of the track and going into the bottom of the hill and into the first turn I've got too much movement and I’m losing a little bit of confidence there."

Stoner said he wasn’t surprised to see Spanish rival Pedrosa start the weekend so fast.

Pedrosa has found finding a good early set-up with his factory YZR-M1 machine a tough task in 2010. But today he clocked a best time of 1.22.251 with only Ducati duo Stoner and American Nicky Hayden lapping inside of half-a-second of Pedrosa.

Stoner, who will join Pedrosa in Honda’s official factory squad in 2011, added: “Dani normally struggles with set-up at the beginning of the weekend but if they get the set-up right out of the box then there is no reason he is not going to be fast.

"It is not so much Dani building up, but it is maybe they don't come out of the box as strong with the set-up. 

"Dani has always been fast here and is again this weekend, so he's the man to chase down at the moment. I should have been able to go quite a lot faster in that session but we just had no confidence in the two hard braking points.”

Stoner conceded that he was losing too much time to Pedrosa in the tight and twisty first section of the Sachsenring track.

He said: “Dani is a lot faster in the first part. He made the best T4 but he is almost two- tenths faster than me in T1.

"For me T1 is the big problem but Dani is two-tenths faster than everyone in T1. It is a tight corner and he's got good acceleration out of it.

"The last section is easy for us to understand because I've got no confidence going into that bottom corner with the bumps upsetting the bike. Normally I’m quite fast in T4 but I need a little more confidence."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt