I know that Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) said that Casey Stoner “rides like a god”, but most fans want more than to watch god embarrass the MotoGP regulars, on occasion, as he did earlier today at Sepang. Sure, he took part in a private test last week at the same venue, but the track was a damp mess.
In any event, as the first official test of the 2017 season opened at Sepang earlier today, the four-years-retired Stoner threw down the fastest lap (he only took 32). For reference, reigning champ Marc Marquez (Honda) took 56 laps and was more than a second slower than Stoner. As a footnote, Stoner was testing several set-ups to help the regular riders, and not trying for a fast lap.
Worse yet, new superstar Ducati team member Jorge Lorenzo took 45 laps and was close to two seconds slower than Stoner’s best. Lorenzo has excuses, and “needs time”, as you will see in the following Ducati press release. Not the best sign when Ducati took the top two spots on the time sheets with the same bike beneath the Spaniard. Testing continues tomorrow (although, Stoner will not ride tomorrow).
Here is the Ducati press release:
Day 1 of IRTA tests concludes at Sepang with quickest time for Ducati Team test-rider Casey Stoner. Second place on the timesheets for Andrea Dovizioso, while Jorge Lorenzo ends the day in provisional seventeenth
The first day of IRTA testing at Sepang concluded this afternoon, as the rain, which began to fall on the Malaysian circuit at around 4 pm, made it impossible to improve times anymore. As a result the session came to an end with Casey Stoner, present at the circuit as test-rider, at the top of the timesheets with a time of 1’59.680 while Andrea Dovizioso was just behind in second with a time of 1’59.797. Jorge Lorenzo, making his debut in factory Ducati Team colours, was in seventeenth place with a time of 2’01.349.
Casey Stoner (Ducati Test Team #27) – 32 laps – 1’59.680 (1st)
“Today was positive and the best thing about it was that we got a lot of dry track time. It’s been hanging in the balance really with the weather because the track takes so long to dry and if it rains at all within twelve hours, you’re going to get very little track time. It’s great that we got out there straightaway this morning and started putting in some good laps, reconfirming what we felt earlier in the week. We got a lot of comparisons done today so it was really good to get a feeling and direction with the bike. We still have a lot more work to do, it was disappointing that it rained but hopefully on Wednesday when we come back on track we can pick up where we left off and move this bike further forward, especially in the chassis area.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 29 laps – 1’59.797 (2nd)
“The first day of testing in 2017 went pretty well and I am pleased because we showed good pace right from the start, using the same bike as Valencia and without needing to make any particular changes. Without the wings we had to adapt to the bike, and we still have a lot of fine-tuning work to do, both with the electronics and on the set-up, because the bike behaves differently, but in any case we are maintaining a good competitive level and it’s always important to start off with this sort of confirmation. Starting off on the right foot helps us continue with the development, and if you add to this the fact that I set my quickest time on a medium tyre, then we have to be satisfied.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 45 laps – 2’01.349 (17th)
“At this circuit I noticed a bigger difference between my Ducati and the bike that I have ridden for the last nine years. Now we have to do two things to be quicker: the first is to gradually adapt the bike to the way I like it, and the second and more important, is to know how to do that and understand how to be quicker. I still need some more time for that, more than I hoped for, but in any case it’s still too early to come to conclusions. It’s only a question of time and laps on the track, so we will work in this direction. The important thing is that the other Ducati bikes were very quick, and this means that the bike has a lot of potential.”
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