Casey Stoner sets the benchmark in Sepang

Casey Stoner again set the pace in Sepang

Casey Stoner again set the pace in Sepang

Casey Stoner has continued his strong pre-season form, setting the fastest time on the first day of the Sepang test.

Stoner’s 2:00.987 saw him end the day nearly 0.4s clear of Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa

“We had a really good day today, from the beginning I felt more comfortable with the bike again, like I understood the bike a little better,” said Stoner, who rode 53 laps.

“We managed to work on set-up but we are still doing a chassis comparison, finding strong points and weak points on both.

“It’s difficult to choose one or the other, whatever set-up we throw at them we seem to be able to run pretty similar lap times.

“We’re very happy with the progress we made today and everything and everybody seems to be working.”

Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Colin Edwards were third and fourth fastest respectively, while Andrea Dovisioso made it three Repsol Hondas in the top five.

Ben Spies (Yamaha), Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini Honda), Marco Simoncelli (Gresini Honda), Valeninto Rossi (Ducati) and Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) rounded out the top 10.

While over one second slower than Stoner’s benchmark, Rossi was 0.7s clear of his team-mate Nicky Hayden, and reported that he was happy with his progress.

“We can be satisfied with today as a first day, because we’re a second from the top, like we were at the end of the first test but without trying a late ‘time attack’ with the soft tyre like the others did,” he said.

“For the most part today, I was between fifth and sixth place, which is the goal we had set.

“I’m still losing about three-tenths due to the shoulder, because I’m still stronger in the left turns, whereas I’m normally the opposite; the rest we’ll have to find by working on the bike.

“I’m also happy because we spent all our time on the hard tyres, which we struggled with before today.

“In the end, we chose one of the two set-ups that we had settled upon at the last Test, and that will now be our base to work from, and the one on which we’ll concentrate our efforts in the next couple of days.”

Hector Barbera (Aspar Ducati), Nicky Hayden (DucatI), Randy de Puniet (Pramac Ducati), Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Karel Abraham (Cardion Ducati) all experienced falls throughout the day but escaped uninjured.

MotoGP testing continues at Sepang later today.

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