Casey Stoner quickest as storm disrupts first day in Sepang

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Casey Stoner topped the timesheets on a rain disrupted opening day of MotoGP testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.

The reigning MotoGP world champion needed only three laps in baking hot conditions this morning to move to the top of the leaderboard and he ended with a best lap of 2.01.761s to finish ahead of Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

But the first day of the second Sepang test was severely disrupted by the weather with well over two hours of dry track time lost when a storm lashed the circuit at 2pm.

Several parts of the track were left covered with extensive patches of standing water, with Turns 4 and 6 and the final corner badly affected.

The rain eased off in less than an hour but it wasn’t until the final hour that the track dried out and conditions then gave nobody any chance of toppling the sensational Stoner, who carried on his domination of the opening Sepang test earlier this month.

His best pace was 0.244s quicker than Spaniard Pedrosa and 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo was the only other rider to lap inside a second of the 26-year-old HRC rider.

Lorenzo briefly led the timesheets this morning before Stoner’s charge and the Spaniard ended with a best time of 2.02.436. That was still 0.675s behind Stoner with factory Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies in fourth after the Texan clocked a best lap of 2.02.819.

Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista was fifth ahead of Nicky Hayden while British rider Cal Crutchlow impressed again to finish seventh quickest. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider logged a best time of 2.03.213 to finish 1.452s adrift of Stoner’s best pace.

Crutchlow was marginally faster than a busy Valentino Rossi, who was out surprisingly early this month as he looked to build on an encouraging Ducati GP12 debut in Sepang earlier this month.

Evaluating new electronics to help improve stability under hard acceleration, the Italian completed 25 laps and set a best time of 2.03.245. That was 1.484s behind Stoner’s best pace and just over a tenth-of-a-second behind team-mate Hayden.

Rossi is certainly working hard to make sure he bounces back from a nightmare 2011 and he was the first rider out on a wet track shortly after 3pm.

Pedrosa and Dovizioso also went on a drying track but Stoner, and Lorenzo never bothered returning.

It was another tough day for the three CRT machines testing in Malaysia, though Colin Edwards did manage to cut the deficit between his Suter/BMW and Stoner’s factory Honda RC213V to less than four seconds.

The Texan posted a best time of 2.05.563 to finish 3.749s behind Stoner. He was over five seconds off the pace at the previous Sepang test, though lap times were considerably slower today than the early February session.

Stoner was over two seconds away from the 1.59.607 he set over three weeks ago with several riders complaining about a lack of grip due to a dirty surface.

The BQR-Kawasaki though continued to struggle and Ivan Silva’s 2.08.109 was a massive 6.348s behind Stoner.

Team-mate Yonny Hernandez was marginally slower with a 2.08.767 on the bike that is powered by a tuned production Kawasaki ZX-10R motor and uses a British-built FTR frame.

1  Casey Stoner  Repsol Honda Team  2:01.761
2  Dani Pedrosa  Repsol Honda Team  2:02.005  +0.244  +0.244  
3  Jorge Lorenzo  Yamaha Factory Racing  2:02.436  +0.431  +0.675  
4  Ben Spies  Yamaha Factory Racing  2:02.819  +0.383  +1.058  
5  Alvaro Bautista  San Carlo Honda Gresini  2:02.959  +0.140  +1.198  
6  Nicky Hayden  Ducati Team  2:03.132  +0.173  +1.371  
7  Cal Crutchlow  Monster Yamaha Tech 3  2:03.213  +0.081  +1.452  
8  Valentino Rossi  Ducati Team  2:03.245  +0.032  +1.484  
9  Hector Barbera  Pramac Racing Team  2:03.612  +0.367  +1.851  
10  Stefan Bradl  LCR Honda  2:03.820  +0.208  +2.059  
11  Andrea Dovizioso  Monster Yamaha Tech 3  2:03.830  +0.010  +2.069  
12  Colin Edwards  NGM Mobile Forward Racing  2:05.510  +1.680  +3.749  
13  Franco Battaini  Cardion AB Motoracing  2:05.563  +0.053  +3.802  
14  Ivan Silva  Avintia Racing  2:08.109  +2.546  +6.348  
15  Yonny Hernández  Avintia Racing  2:08.767  +0.658  +7.006

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt