Casey Stoner predicts much faster times in Sepang

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Reigning MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner expects lap times to fall sharply over the remainder of the second Sepang test in Malaysia after he dominated a rain-hit opening day.

The Repsol Honda rider topped the timesheets with a quickest lap of 2.01.761 that put him well clear of Spanish rivals Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.

But his best time was 2.1s slower than his quickest lap that secured him top spot in the first Sepang test earlier this month.

The 26-year-old blamed sizzling hot track temperatures for the slow pace before torrential rain lashed the Sepang circuit for an hour between 2 and 3pm.

He told MCN: “This morning conditions weren’t ideal and by the time I was getting more comfortable the track was at its hottest at 57 degrees and it wasn’t the best conditions.

“Normally we go a lot slower when the temperature comes up anyway so this afternoon I have no doubt we would have gone one or 1.5s faster with new tyres and better track conditions. I’m sure everybody would have been closer to the pace at the last test. I’m only a tenth off of where I was at the last test on the first day.”

Stoner didn’t ride in the wet or once the track had dried for the final hour but in his 16-laps he could still detect a major chatter issue that has plagued the new RC213V 1000cc machine during winter testing.

HRC is struggling to dial out the chatter issue that has arisen since the introduction of softer construction Bridgestone tyres aimed at better initial warm-up performance.

And Stoner added: “Unfortunately we still have it. We have got things to try for that, which we could have tried this afternoon, but we’ll probably try tomorrow because today was a waste of time.

“We still have the same chassis. It depends what we find but we’ve got a couple of things to change the stiffness and change the weight around to try and remove the frequency. There’s no point bringing a new chassis until we try every available option we have with this one. If they don’t work we might have to go in another direction.

“We tried something different with brake discs, to try and stop a little bit of brake fade that we sometimes have when we have a shake on the bike. We can lose the brakes going into the next corner, so that improved a little bit.”

Thoughts on how to rid the Honda RC213V of chatter at least momentarily distracted Stoner’s mind from thinking about his wife Adriana and new daughter Alessandra back at his European base in Switzerland.

His first child was born on February 16 and it had clearly been a huge wrench for Stoner to leave for Kuala Lumpur.

He added: “I want to be back home. I desperately miss her but now I know what most people feel like that have to leave their children at home each week and we’ll have to do that for a while now.

“We’ve got a very privileged life in some ways, but we’ve still got to say goodbye. It’s been a nice week-and-half getting to know her and learning all her little habits.

“Waking up each morning next to her is something really special. If she is a little bit hungry or upset I lay her on my chest and she either goes back to sleep or just lies calm and that is something special.

“Being there for her each day is something special and makes you feel really important. So far it has been a dream and perfect but I’m sure every parent would say they wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt