STONER SETS THE ISLAND PACE ON A DAY OF AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONS Casey Stoner completed an impressive first day of free practice for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island today, setting the quickest lap time over the two free practice...
STONER SETS THE ISLAND PACE ON A DAY OF AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONS
Casey Stoner completed an impressive first day of free practice for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island today, setting the quickest lap time over the two free practice sessions, one of which took place in the dry and one in the wet, either side of a special World Champions' presentation at lunchtime.
Stoner was given his replica version of the premier-class trophy introduced last year by Dorna's CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and FIM representative Claude Danis in recognition of his World Championship success in 2007. Alongside him Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner and Freddie Sheene - son of the legendary Englishman Barry - were retrospectively handed their editions of the impressive sculpture.
Marco Melandri struggled to find a suitable set-up for the dry conditions this morning and wasn't helped by the dramatic change in weather in the afternoon. The Italian is hoping the positive forecasts for tomorrow are proved accurate.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1st: 1'30.094
"Everything went really well in the dry this morning and we quickly found a good set-up and feeling with the bike that allowed me to push quite hard straight away. We've still got some areas we can improve on but in the dry we're more or less ready to race. We had a few more problems in the wet and have a few issues with the rear to sort out. So far we haven't found good traction and the changes we made to the bike didn't have the desired effect. I'm only half satisfied with today so if it's wet tomorrow we'll need to work really hard on finding a solution. It was a real honour to receive the trophy today as a World Champion - especially alongside Mick and Wayne. I was too young to watch Wayne race but I have seen the videos and I grew up watching Mick. They both inspired a never-say-die attitude in me that has been crucial in my career. There were times in the not-too-distant past when I thought that being World Champion was an impossible dream but that attitude helped to make it possible. That and a great team, great bike and great tyres! It was also nice to see Freddie because I think Barry Sheene was an inspiration to racers all over the world - not just in England and Australia - and everybody here at Phillip Island remembers him fondly."
MARCO MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team) 15th: 1'31.803
"It hasn't been a good first day and, as we've seen so many times this year, the change in conditions from one session to the next certainly hasn't helped. The problems are still the same - I can't get any feeling for the tyres and I can't ride the bike like I want. Hopefully the conditions are more stable tomorrow."