By: Gordon Hatch
Casey Stoner once again topped the timing sheets in Sepang, Malaysia at the second Official MotoGP winter test with the Honda Factory rider mirroring his first performance from the first test at Sepang just a number of weeks ago.
Stoner set a time of 2m 0.987s that was good enough to see him top the timing sheets on his RC212V ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa who finished just under half a second behind the Aussie.
The 2007 MotoGP champ is happy about how his first day went but is finding it hard to choose a single chassis option for the season ahead.
"Today we had a good day, from the start I felt more comfortable with the bike, as if I understood it better. We worked on the setup, but we are still comparing the chassis, finding the strongpoints and the weaker ones one each one. It is difficult to choose one or the other, whichever we use we set similar times," Casey said.
Pedrosa worked extensively on electronics and chassis setup and was pleased with how the first day went.
"We took maximum advantage of today`s tests. In the morning we concentrated on the different electronic setups so we can improve when entering and leaving corners, and in the afternoon we made some modifications to the setups on the chassis to improve the stability when braking."
The #26 rider is also confident that his shoulder will be ready for the start of the season after his crash at the Japanese Grand Prix last year, "Moreover I feel that the shoulder is better than in the first sessions a couple of weeks ago. I have had two weeks more of training and it is stronger, so my physical condition is getting better," he said.
Reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo was a close third on his Factory Yamaha YZR-M1 that was revealed in its 2011 livery the day before testing begun.
Fellow Yamaha rider Colin Edwards set the fourth best time for his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 with the Texan carrying on his ever-improving form from the previous test.
Lorenzo was happy to end the first day in searing temperatures (track ranging from 39 to 46 degrees!) where he did in third place and was happy with the progress on his YZR-M1.
"Today was a good day for me, we worked on the traction to improve it from the previous test which helped us a lot in the set up, I'm now very satisfied with it. We have our chassis for 2011 now and we are working on it as well as our engine spec," said Lorenzo.
The Spaniard also said the changes that his crew made helped him in corner entry and in braking, "With the improvements we've made we can now brake a little later and enter the corners a little more quickly as well so I was able to do some good fast consistent lap times this afternoon when it was still very hot on the track."
Lorenzo's 2011 teammate Ben Spies spent this morning acclimatising to his bike once again after the break. He worked on some different suspension settings for the day and was just under a second from Stoner to finish in sixth.
"We tried a couple of shocks and found a few tenths and were still consistently fast on used tyres which was promising. It's definitely a good day and I'm happy with it," Spies commented.
"We came to this test with the engine configurations we're going to race with so both bikes have that. We just warmed up in the morning and spent the afternoon on one set of tyres. We set our fastest lap of the day when it was very hot and mid race distance on a hard tyre," added the American.
Stoner and Pedrosa may have held the top positions but their teammate Andrea Dovizioso also had another strong showing to finish in fifth with a best time of 2m 1.747s.
Meanwhile the hype was not dying down around Valentino Rossi and the six-time MotoGP Champion was pleased with his first day where he was running as high as fourth in the first part of the day.
Ducati Marlboro rider Rossi is happy with the progress of his injured shoulder and was also happy with the direction he and his team is taking in finding the correct settings to allow him to ride the bike how he wants it.
Finishing the day in ninth position, The Doctor said, "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. 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," added added.
While Rossi focused on the GP11's rideability his teammate Nicky Hayden worked to reduce some chatter and the Kentucky Kid having was unlucky to have a slow fall but thankfully he walked away unharmed to finish the day in 12th place.
"Everything pretty much went according to schedule, except I had a little crash in Turn 1 toward the end of the morning session. It was really hot, and I lost the front and tipped over, but I was going slow and didn't do any damage to myself or the bike," said Hayden.
"Today we experienced less chatter than we had last time, so that's quite good. We need to keep reducing that over the next two days and also find some more traction, so we've got plenty to keep us busy."
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama finished in seventh ahead of his teammate and Sepang sensation Marco Simoncelli in eight.
The Spanish duo of Alvaro Bautista - Suzuki's line MotoGP hope and Aspar's Hector Barbera ended in 10th and 11th respectively while LCR Honda rider Toni Elias finished 13th ahead of Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet in 14th.
MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tec 3) finished in 15th spot but the English rider can take something from being ahead of veteran Loris Capirossi (Pramac Ducati) in 16th while another rookie in the form of Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) finished 17th.