MotoGP: Stoner says Ducati flying without wings

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Casey Stoner has laid down an incredible marker to the MotoGP field by topping the opening day of the season’s first test at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit, shattering the lap record as he joined the regular field in his role as Ducati’s test rider.

And while he’s only testing for the Italian firm, the 2017 Ducati that will carry Jorge Lorenzo’s ambitious MotoGP championship bid has the potential to be competitive without wings, according to the Australian, who showed exactly what the package is capable of despite not riding a Grand Prix machine for over six months.

Winglets are now banned in MotoGP with strict regulations allowing only one fairing design update during the season. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna was an adventurous leader in aero development and it was feared that the winglet ban could have a negative impact on handling and performance.

But even with that, Stoner was able to set a blistering pace on the opening day of action at the test, finishing the day under the existing lap record and well clear of fellow Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso.

“The new bike feels very good without winglets and I feel that the transition from wings is heading in the right direction,” Stoner said. “For me the big positives without wings are that you can get the bike to turn a little easier and pick it up easier, it feels lighter in the change of direction.

“It shows there is more than one way to be fast around a given track and I feel the Ducati will be competitive without winglets. But we can still improve the braking stability because for the past two years all the data has been based on wings.

“We need to find the balance to make the bike a little more comfortable on corner entry.  We are heading in the right direction and the reality is everyone is always looking for more grip and braking stability.”

However, the wingless fairing being used at Sepang is almost certainly not the final solution for the opening race in Qatar with Dall’Igna working on other variations for later tests.

Colin Young

By Colin Young