SEPANG, Malaysia — Ducati Team test rider and two-time MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner topped the time sheets on the opening day of preseason testing at the Sepang Int’l Circuit.
Stoner landed just ahead of Ducati race rider and 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix winner Andrea Dovizioso, making for a one-two sweep at the top for the Italian team.
Rain cut the day two hours short, putting an end to any attempts at better times, however Stoner was pleased with the team’s effort.
“Today was positive and the best thing about it was that we got a lot of dry track time,” said Stoner. “It’s been hanging in the balance really with the weather … because the track takes so long to dry and if it rains at all within twelve hours, you’re going to get very little track time. It’s great that we got out there straightaway this morning and started putting in some good laps, reconfirming what we felt earlier in the week. We got a lot of comparisons done today so it was really good to get a feeling and direction with the bike.”
“We still have a lot more work to do, it was disappointing that it rained but hopefully on Wednesday when we come back on track we can pick up where we left off and move this bike further forward, especially in the chassis area.”
Stoner put in 32 laps, with a best time of 1:59.680, while Dovizioso’s top time of 1:59.797 came as part of 29 total laps. The pair were the only riders below the two-minute mark.
One of the Ducati Team’s most high-profile additions in Malaysia was a new exhaust system, something that proved to be a key focus in the initial stages of testing.
Behind the two red machines was Maverick Viñales in third, posting 54 laps aboard the factory Yamaha bike that was vacated during the offseason by multi-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) and Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top five fastest riders, while Viñales’ Yamaha teammate — nine-time champion Valentino Rossi — was eighth.
An off day for the Repsol Honda team saw reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez only able to slot in ninth-fastest, with teammate Dani Pedrosa further down the order in 13th.
Meanwhile Lorenzo, who joined Ducati in the offseason, was a disappointing 17th overall, mounted up on last year’s Ducati before the rains came.
“At this circuit I noticed a bigger difference between my Ducati and the bike that I have ridden for the last nine years,” said Lorenzo. “Now we have to do two things to be quicker: the first is to gradually adapt the bike to the way I like it, and the second and more important, is to know how to do that and understand how to be quicker. I still need some more time for that, more than I hoped for, but in any case it’s still too early to come to conclusions.”
“It’s only a question of time and laps on the track, so we will work in this direction. The important thing is that the other Ducati bikes were very quick, and this means that the bike has a lot of potential.”
MotoGP Communications and the Ducati Team contributed to this report.