The Repsol Honda Team has laid down the marker on the first day of free practice for the Grand Prix of Japan, with Dani Pedrosa on top and Casey Stoner in seventh position.
Stoner, on return to competition after his injury that has kept him inactive since Indianapolis, had a difficult morning after an unusual failure left him with only one bike from the beginning of the session. The Australian also experienced issues in the afternoon session and lost valuable track time as he reacquainted himself with his Honda RC213V and adapted to riding with his healing ankle. He finished the day in seventh position, 0.890 off his teammate, hoping his ankle will ease slightly for tomorrow's qualifying.
"Today was a perfect day for practice. The track conditions were very good, the warm temperatures helped, as did the new surface, so we were able to do the job we wanted. The main target today was to test the tyres and we completed some good laps on both hard and soft compounds. The asphalt is new and the grip is quite good, so the lap times are pretty fast from the beginning. We also did some work on the suspension and the mapping to will keep improving on this tomorrow."
"Today was a little disappointing, this morning we had our first bike fail on us so we lost valuable time, then in the second session we had a brake issue and spent a lot of time in the garage fixing that also. We spent the two sessions trying to find a nice balance with the bike; of course I'm not feeling 100% as it is, so I wanted to get a reasonable feeling with it before I start pushing. At the moment the acceleration points are causing me most difficulty, as there are many areas at this circuit where the bike wants to wheelie and you need to keep your body and weight over the front of the bike. Unfortunately my foot doesn't want to bend far enough to help me move forward so I'm having to pull myself forward which is giving me issues with my arms as they are working a lot harder than usual. We'll keep working tomorrow and see what we can do."
Source: Repsol Honda Team