By: Gordon Hatch - MotoGP correspondent
Stoner continues to lead teammates Pedrosa and Dovizioso in Malaysia
Casey Stoner continued his dominance of the MotoGP field today in the sweltering Malaysian sun during testing at the second official winter test at Sepang where he set a best time of 2m 0.171s.
The 2007 MotoGP champion moved closer to breaking the 2 minute mark but he was closely followed by the ever improving Dani Pedrosa (2m 0.229s) who still does not have 100% fitness in his left shoulder.
"We tested a lot of different things including the 2011 fork and new shocks and we found quite a lot of chattering with them. We spent 90% of the day on one bike trying different configurations, changing the geometry to get the new fork working with the bike but didn't find anything that felt really good, but these things are necessary to do before the start of the season," Stoner said.
The factory Honda duo were then followed up by fellow Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso who set a best day two time of 2m 0.531s to complete a Honda lockout of the top three places on the timing sheets.
The Honda trio were followed by factory Yamaha newcomer Ben Spies (2'00.824s) who finished just .007s ahead of his teammate and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo (2'00.931s).
Spies was upbeat about his second day on the YZR-M1 and like yesterday a number of settings changes were tested. "I think we had a really successful day, we tried a little bit of a different chassis set up to try and improve the rear grip and we definitely succeeded in that. We did a few long runs and were quite fast on a hot track so it has been really productive finding how to be consistent in the heat," he said.
The Texan also spoke about his minor crash at turn seven on day two while remaining upbeat, "It's a pity I made a small mistake at the end of the day however I think we've gained a lot, especially with the rear grip of the bike."
His teammate Lorenzo worked hard on his setup on his bike that he will use for the 2011 season and is happy with the direction he and his crew are taking. "It was a hard and hot day today, we tried the test bike as well as my 2011 bike to reconfirm a number of new developments.
"We confirmed that the direction is right so we will continue tomorrow with this direction on my M1," however, Lorenzo still believes there is more need from the bike, "We've definitely improved the traction a lot, although we could still do with some more power."
While Honda dominated the timing sheets taking seven out of the top ten positions, the paddock was full of talk surrounding Valentino Rossi's withdrawal from the second day of testing due to falling ill.
The Ducati Marlboro rider is already hampered by his recovering shoulder and now missing a days testing will put him even more on the back foot to get ready for the first race of the season in Qatar on 20th March.
The Ducati team confirmed earlier on that the #46 rider would not take part in the second day testing: "Suffering from flu symptoms, Valentino Rossi didn't take to the track during today's second of three days of testing at Sepang. The Italian rider was feeling weakened by fever and a cold when he arrived at the track this morning, and after consulting with the team and with doctors from the Clinica Mobile, he returned to his hotel, where he underwent anti-flu treatment."
The hope now within Ducati is that the day off will see Rossi bounce back for the third and final day of testing at Sepang. Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden finished day two in 12th position with a time of 2m 2.208s.
Following Spies and Lorenzo in 6th and 7th place was the San Carlo Honda Gresini pairing of Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama only today the order was reversed with Aoyama having finished ahead of Simoncelli on day one.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards came home in 8th position while saving Ducati's blushes somewhat in 10th position was Spain's Hector Barbera on the Aspar Ducati.
The lower placings once again saw experienced rider Randy de Puniet still getting familiar with the Pramac Racing Ducati in 14th place while his teammate and MotoGP's most experienced rider Loris Capirossi placed 15th.
The trio of newcomers to the Premier Class; Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing), Toni Elias (LCR Honda) and Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) finished 16th, 17th and 18th respectively. Crutchlow is also recovering from a bug that he caught while traveling to Malaysia a few days ago.