Casey Stoner sets the pace in Sepang

Casey Stoner on his Repsol Honda

Casey Stoner on his Repsol Honda

Casey Stoner has set the pace on the opening day of 2011 MotoGP testing – continuing his strong transition from Ducati to Honda.

The 25-year-old Australian set a 2:01.574s lap of the Sepang circuit to outpace reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on his factory Yamaha.

Stoner’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa clocked the third fastest time, and reported minimal pain from the collarbone he broke in practice for last October’s Japanse Grand Prix.

Second-year rider Marco Simoncelli made it three Hondas in the top four on his Gresini-run bike, while Ben Spies – who replaces Valentino Rossi at the factory Yamaha team – rounded out the top five.

For Stoner, it had been another positive day on the RC212V.

“At the beginning it took some time to get used to the bike again, but I soon felt comfortable and we had a good day,” he said.

“We didn’t change the set-up too much compared to the one we had in Valencia and I am pleased to see that even if the circuit is different, it still works pretty well here in Sepang.

“We did some work later on with the engine braking to decrease some chattering and looks like we found a good solution.

“In the next two days we will start testing something new but anyway for me, it was a very good way to come back on track after the winter break.”

Still recovering from shoulder surgery last November, Rossi was also upbeat after the day, despite clocking only the 12th fastest time – some two seconds adrift of Stoner.

“Rarely have I been this happy with a twelfth place, because after the test at Misano, we were pretty pessimistic considering how bad I felt there,” he said.

“It went better here though, especially in the morning, and we were able to do 20, 25 laps at a decent speed.

“Unfortunately, it became more difficult when I lost a lot of strength in the afternoon, but in the end I was able to do about fifteen more laps.

“Let’s say that at the moment, I have quite a bit of pain and not much strength, whereas the opposite would be preferable!”

MotoGP testing continues at the Sepang circuit today.

See below for the Day 1 times

1 Casey Stoner Honda 2:01.574
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:01.977
3 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:02.024
4 Marco Simoncelli Honda 2:02.295
5 Ben Spies Yamaha 2:02.332
6 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 2:02.422
7 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 2:02.483
8 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 2:02.507
9 Colin Edwards Yamaha 2:02.514
10 Randy de Puniet Ducati 2:03.152
11 Kousuke Akiyoshi Honda 2:03.224
12 Valentino Rossi Ducati 2:03.365
13 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:03.508
14 Loris Capirossi Ducati 2:03.695
15 Hector Barbera Ducati 2:03.767
16 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:04.009
17 Toni Elias Honda 2:04.238
18 Karel Abraham Ducati 2:04.470

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