Mugello MotoGP: Casey Stoner to test 2009 Ohlins forks

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Casey Stoner will revert back to a set of 2009 spec Ohlins front forks in practice for the Italian GP as he attempts to cure a mystery front-end issue that has effectively killed off his MotoGP title hopes after just three races.        

Stoner is still baffled by his recent crash at the French GP in Le Mans that left the 24-year-old facing a massive task to claw his way back into title contention this season.       

Stoner goes into Sunday’s clash at Mugello trailing series leader Jorge Lorenzo by 59-points after just three rounds and in a bid to cure his front-end issues, he told MCN today he’ll run tests on last year’s forks.     

The Australian, who also crashed out of the lead in the season’s opening race in Qatar, told MCN: “In Le Mans until the race everything was working fine. We’re going to try something in the front forks to load the front a bit more and something in the rear to try and put a bit more pressure on the front tyre.

“Or we might take some weight off it. It seems every crash has happened when I’ve released the front brake, it never happens while I’m on the brake so in theory we should be putting more pressure on the front.

“We tried that in Jerez at the test but it made the bike worse and closed the front a lot more. It is not really giving us correct feedback. Taking more weight off the front should make it worse but we tried that in Jerez and it made it a little better. We don’t have solid points to figure out.”

Stoner said he hoped the use of the old spec forks would at least give him some answers to the issue that has left him baffled.

He added: “I’d like to back-to-back the forks. Everybody is pretty much been using the new forks but since the beginning of the season we have been struggling to find a set-up as easily as what we did in the past.

“But at the same time we have a new engine and all things that can play a big factor. It is very difficult because we’ve tried having more and less engine braking, more and less weight in the front and to be honest I’m not getting the right feedback at the point in the corner. It is very complicated at the moment.”

Stoner denied that any of the issues were related to a new Big Bang engine that Ducati introduced for 2010 to help tame its factory contender on corner exit.

Stoner added: “I don’t think it’s a problem of the engine. I can understand from when I’m getting on the gas harder that it might upset the front but it is not at the point in the corner when I’m crashing.  

“We’ve had more and less engine braking and didn’t get any improvement. The only thing we haven’t tried is forks. We’ll try different damping systems to what we have now and just try and get some feedback.

“You lose the front all the time but they can pick the bike up. That’s normal and how you find the limit but when I’ve lost the front I’ve not even been close to picking the bike up again.

“Once it goes I can’t dig my knee into pick it up. When it does go it goes slowly but it doesn’t want to comeback. Maybe with a change in damping the fork can spring up quicker.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt