Stoner To The Top In Sepang Test

Henny Ray Abrams | February 22, 2011

The Repsol Honda boys fired the first shot in the opening day of a three-day test at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, with Casey Stoner continuing to show that he will be a force to be reckoned with on the Honda RC212V. To further emphasize just how good the Honda looks to be, Stoner’s teammates Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso ended the day second and fifth, respectively.And let’s not forget that San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli led the previous three-day test at Sepang some three weeks ago with Pedrosa second and Stoner third.But this time it was Stoner at the top, the Australian lapping at 2:00.987 to best Pedrosa by .373 of a second. Stoner had spent the majority of the first day comparing the stiffer 2011 chassis to the 2010 version and his quickest lap came on the 48th of 33 laps.”We had a really good day today,” Stoner said in a Honda release. “From the beginning I felt more comfortable with the bike again, like I understood the bike a little better. We managed to work on set-up, but we are still doing a chassis comparison, finding strong points and weak points on both. It’s difficult to choose one or the other. Whatever set-up we throw at them we seem to be able to run pretty similar lap times. We’re very happy with the progress we made today and everything and everybody seems to be working well.”With more time to get his shoulder healthy since the last test, Pedrosa said his strength was better and it showed in his riding.”We made the most of the test today, which is a good job, because it looks like tomorrow we will get some rain,” Pedrosa said. “In the morning, we focused on some different electronic mappings to improve the entering and exit of the corners and in the afternoon we did some set-up modifications on the chassis to improve the stability on braking. The track temperature was high at the middle of the day and the track was quite slippery, but we did a good test and tomorrow we will work on smaller details. Also, physically my shoulder felt better on the bike than in the first test. I had two more weeks and I’ve become stronger from training, so my condition is getting better.”World Champion Jorge Lorenzo ended today’s session with the third quickest time, his best .481 of a second behind Stoner.”Today was a good day for me,” Lorenzo said. “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. 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.”Behind Lorenzo came Texan Colin Edwards, the Tech 2 Yamaha rider .667 of a second behind Stoner but the second of the Yamaha men.The third Repsol Honda ended the day fifth with Italian Dovizioso at the helm and happy to rid the RC212V of a chatter problem.”I’m really happy about how we have started this second test,” Dovizioso said. “Honda engineers have made a very good job on the engine brake with the electronic system to improve the feeling on the rear and these are really good because, I have to say, that it was our main problem last year and we couldn’t make such a big step forward as we did today. We have decreased the chattering compared to the first test and the stability on the rear, so I’m very satisfied. We were able to be fast from the beginning and, even though we were not looking for a lap time today, we tried three different tire compounds and we had a good pace with all of them.”Ben Spies ended up sixth, the Texan riding his M1 with race-ready engine specs.”Today we came to this test with the engine configurations we’re going to race with so both bikes have that,” Spies said in a Yamaha release. “We just warmed up in the morning and spent the afternoon on one set of tires. We set our fastest lap of the day when it was very hot and mid race distance on a hard tire. We’re saving some tires for the end of the test when the track’s good. We worked on some race set up and I also worked on some different riding styles. We’ll start again tomorrow with plenty more to do. We tried a couple of shocks and found a few tenths and were still consistently fast on used tires, which was promising. It’s definitely a good day and I’m happy with it.”

After Spies came two more Hondas with five of the bikes in the top 10. Hiroshi Aoyoma ended up seventh with Simoncelli eighth.Marlboro Ducati’s Valentino Rossi ended the day ninth with Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista rounding out the top 10.Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden was one of the crashers today, but the Kentuckian escaped injury. Hayden ended up 12th fastest. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow crashed twice en route to 15th.

Test Times

1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2:00.987

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:01.360

3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.468

4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:01.654

5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2:01.747

6. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:01.808

7. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 2:01.939

8. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 2:01.996

9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2:01.999

10. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 2:02.224

11. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2:02.645

12. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:02.680

13. Toni Elias (Honda) 2:02.779

14. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 2:02.920

15. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:0 2.936

16. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 2:03.082

17. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 2:03.167


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.