Australian untouchable on day one much to the delight of his home fans
Casey Stoner gave the rest of the MotoGP field a taste of what they are in for at this weekend’s AirAsia Australian Grand Prix after the Repsol Honda Rider broke last year’s pole position time at the Philip Island circuit during the second free practice session. Stoner was untouchable on his RC213V with his best lap of 1m 29.999s over a second faster than his teammate Dani Pedrosa (1m 30.884s) with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo in third setting a best time of 1m 31.005s.
“”We were pretty quick to get on the pace and I didn't expect to achieve the lap times we did.|Casey Stoner|right”” Stoner was imperious on board his Honda machine and gave the Australian crowds a masterful performance on the track where he has already notched up 5 wins during his MotoGP career. The 27-year-old left the rest of the riders in his wake as he set out on his quest for his 6th and what will be his final MotoGP victory at his home circuit with the two-times MotoGP Champion retiring at the end of this season. Stoner’s fans will be delighted with his return to the front as will his personal sponsor Red Bull who has just announced that they will sponsor the new Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas next year.
Finishing the day in 4th place was the Monster Yamaha Tech machine of Cal Crutchlow who quickly took to the Australian asphalt and eventually set a best time of 1m 31.367s with his teammate Andrea Dovizioso ending day one in 5th place (1m 31.458s). Alvaro Bautista finished his first day in 6th position with a 1m 31.616s lap on his San Carlo Honda Gresini machine while following close behind was LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl (1m 31.702s).
The Ducati Team pairing of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden finished in 8th and 9th respectively with Rossi setting a best time of 1m 32.030s compared to that of Hayden’s 1m 32.654s. The Power Electronics Aspar machine of Randy De Puniet finished in 10th position on the timing sheets with his best lap of 1m 32.674s while Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera ended his first day in 11th with a best time of 1m 32.706s. Karel Abraham finished with a 12th place lap (1m 32.744s) for the Cardion AB Motoracing Team. Colin Edwards finished in 13th place for the NGM Forward Racing team with a best lap of 1m 33.835s ahead of Michele Pirro and the San Carlo Honda Gresini squad on a time of 1m 34.002s.
McLaren who is filling in for the injured Yonny Hernandez on the Avintia Blusens machine. Ben Spies is currently recovering from surgery on his shoulder that he injured last week in Sepang.
Speaking afterwards, Stoner said he didn’t expect to be so much in front on just the first day. He said, “It was a very positive first day, we were pretty quick to get on the pace and to be honest I didn't expect to achieve the lap times we did. With the extra horse power we have this year it's a little easier to get around this place quickly! The times we were able to do in the first session were pretty good but I thought everybody would improve a lot more in the second session but we were able to go quite a lot faster than everybody with almost race distance on our soft tyres and then we put the hard tire on and were able to improve again.
This is very positive at this stage of the weekend but we'll have to wait for tomorrow and Sunday to see where everyone else is. My ankle is in a lot worse condition than in Motegi but coming here, there are a lot less right hand corners, it's nice to take a bit of weight off it,” Stoner added.
Lorenzo is focused on maintaining his points advantage over main championship rival Pedrosa saying, “It’s been really tough so far today, the conditions are quite difficult. It’s been really windy which makes it very uncomfortable to ride. We are going to try and stay with Dani here and also Casey but he is very fast, he’s on another level at this track. I think we are close to Dani so our goal is to try and beat him. We’re going to try and make the bike more stable tomorrow to keep the wheels on the ground and make it more comfortable in the wind.”