Assen MotoGP: Casey Stoner chasing edge grip

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Casey Stoner is confident he can make improvements to his factory Honda RC212V machine to challenge for pole position in Assen tomorrow after he ended a disrupted opening day of practice with the third fastest time.

The Repsol Honda rider, who is chasing a fourth straight win for the first time in his career in Saturday’s 26-lap race, clocked a best time of 1.49.527 in a rain-hit first session to finish just 0.131s behind Valentino Rossi’s new Ducati GP11.1 in second.
The Australian, who has dominated the last three races in Le Mans, Catalunya and Silverstone, was 0.491s behind Marco Simoncelli.

He was unable to focus on improving edge grip later in the day with this afternoon’s second session cancelled following two major oil spillages in the earlier Moto2 practice.

But with more rain forecast for tomorrow, Stoner said: “By the time we got out there this morning we got some track time but not really enough. When I came into make a couple of changes we didn’t really get the track time we wanted and we were still trying to improve the bike from Silverstone. We still weren’t really happy with the edge grip on the tyre at Silverstone, but this morning we were still struggling a little bit more.

“I think if I had a few more laps we would have warmed the tyre up enough to really understand the bike, but it seemed like a very short session. We have quite good traction on the centre of the tyre when the bike is picked up but on the edge of the tyre we’re struggling a little bit for grip. We had a similar problem in Silverstone and we are not in a panic to fix this problem, but we’d like to warm the edge of the tyre up a little bit faster and this is something we are trying to improve. I’m sure with a couple more sessions in the wet we’ll have no problem.”

Stoner goes into Saturday’s 26-lap race with an 18-point lead over reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt