VALENCIA, SPAIN, NOV 9 – If anyone had doubts about Casey Stoner’s speed,

they’d have to have a serious re-think after his performance today.

 

On his first day as a factory Honda rider the Australian finished the first

of two days of testing in Valencia, Spain with the second fastest time.

Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was fastest by quite a lot, .763 secs., but Stoner

was second and faster than he’d gone on the Marlboro Ducati in Sunday’s

race. And he was faster than new teammates Dani Pedrosa and Andrea

Dovizioso.

 

The day began wet, cold, and windy, which delayed the start of on-track

activities for close to 2 ½ hours. When Stoner finally rolled out onto the

track, he said it “was a very proud moment finally to get out on the bike

and get that first feedback from it. Everything that I can say has been

great today, to be honest. Almost everything I expected. The feeling that I

had from it, the feedback I got from the bike is just excellent. Step by

step we got my position a little bit better on the bike, so I started to

feel I was slightly more comfortable. We haven’t really changed a lot today.

It was just some laps and making sure that when I came back in I gave the

best data I could and tried to make the right directions, right steps from

there. We did a lot with electronics today, just trying to get an

understanding in which way they work and which direction we want to head for

the future.

 

“Yeah, so far everything’s been pretty good. We haven’t had to touch too

much to do with the chassis. We’ve just been running and trying to get an

understanding of how the engine, what characteristic and like I said, how we

want the bike to react.”

 

Having raced against the Hondas the past four years, Stoner knew what to

expect and got confirmation once he started rolling.

 

“For sure I’m very happy and it’s many things of what I expected before I

rode this bike from racing with them and competing with them over these

years, many things is what I expected,” he said. “We have to see what’s

coming in the future. This is day one. We have a long way to go to before we

reach its and our full potential with it and then we can start to understand

what we think.”

 

Stoner was given permission by Ducati to test, but he couldn’t ride in team

colors, nor, did it seem, could he make a direct comparison to the Ducati.

Asked how the engine compared to the Desmosedici GP10, he laughed and said,

“I was very happy with the Honda today. I was very happy with the bike

today. It felt great to me and I had a just great feedback from it,

basically, and was able to run quite a lot of laps and in a short space of

time we found just excellent feedback. And basically, the ergonomics of the

bike was the most important thing for us to get myself on the right position

on the bike and just didn’t take long at all.

 

“So very, very happy that only took a couple of exits to get very

comfortable and then it was just a matter of running laps, getting more in

tune with the bike, and there’s just a lot of different things to

understand.”

 

The main problem for Stoner and teammate Nicky Hayden this year was the

front end. Stoner said there were no such problems with the Honda RC212V.

 

“Yeah, I mean, at the moment the front feeling is perfect,” he said. “I was

pushing it slightly more and more and the last run, the last exit, and it

started to respond more. So like I said, we didn’t touch the chassis very

much today. We did almost nothing and we got great feedback from what we

did. So all I was doing was just sort of slowly pushing it a little bit

more, a little bit more and the feeling was fantastic. To go in on the

brakes with a lot of brakes, going on the side of the tire with a lot of

confidence, and, yeah, actually we had no problems.”

 

Stoner repeatedly mentioned the potential of the Honda. “We know that

there’s so much more to come,” he said, adding that he’d done the times with no chassis adjustments. “We just brought more or less the balance a little bit better. We haven’t tried to do really anything with the bike and just we’re concentrating on one area of the time and trying to get it working better than way. “And yeah, I heard I went fastest with those laps, but they weren’t fast, they were slow. We took our time today. We got up to speed the way I wanted  to. Yeah, it was just trying to work out mapping and electronics trying to get that understanding and tomorrow maybe we’ll work on a little bit the chassis and things like that. We just want to make sure with the small amount of testing time we have to concentrate on one thing at a time to make sure we get that right before moving onto the next stage.” The time spent on engine paid off. At the beginning they had a very slow, very progressive power delivery and they were trying to make it a little stronger in the early part of the control so Stoner had more control in the hand, more than in the engine. Changes in the mapping slowly brought the engine power on, he said. “We worked on this for most of the day and got the feeling better and better so I had more control in the hand, and immediately everything started to feel more comfortable for me. For me the engine is extremely smooth and yeah, I mean it’s like glass. It’s great.” Much more than Ducati, he was asked? “The engine is smooth,” he smiled, later adding, “Smoother than I expected. I expected extreme acceleration and grunt, but it came so smooth it was a little bit surprising so it was something we worked on to get it a little bit more responsive in the hand, and yeah, by the end of the day we got a lot more comfortable with this situation.” As happy as he was with the bike, he knew there was work ahead, “but I think that’s because we haven’t had time to set the bike and understand. The potential for me is so high. We haven’t done anything today, very, very little. And we found so many things, so many parameters we’re able to move and make better, so we will, I’m sure, make the bike feeling more and more comfortable and as I get a little bit more comfortable with the bike. The first day always feels a little strange. But when I get more comfortable and we move these parameters in the direction we want it will meet our expectations.”

MotoGP Headlines

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.

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