Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner shuffled the pack on the second day of the Sepang MotoGP test, posting the fastest lap of day two
Casey Stoner didn't waste any time – and he didn't need many laps – to remind the MotoGP paddock why he is reigning world champion and why there must be short odds on him retaining his MotoGP title in 2012.
Stoner and crew chief Gasperini discuss the weather: "Humid," apparently
The 27 year old Australian took only 29 laps and one day to relegate a fleet of Yamaha M1s to the minor placings and knock Valentino Rossi and the Ducati GP12 back a place on 'grid' with a 2-00.895.
Whether you think Hector Barbera ending the day as the fastest Ducati, a smidge faster than Rossi is good news or bad, depends on whether you are a bigger fan of Ducati than Rossi. Does it suggest that the GP12 is an 'easier' bike to ride – and not just for Rossi?
Stoner had sat out the opening day of the test (Monday 31st) after he apparently tweaked his back during his pre-ride stretch and warm up. Honda was keeping tight-lipped over whether they were being cautious or whether Stoner took a big jag of pain killers and showed some 'Aussie Grit' on day two of the test. Either way, he must have dented the hopes of those who thought that the improvements shown by Ducati and Yamaha (which looks like it will be more competitive even in satellite form) would see a real challenge to Repsol Honda in 2012.
Obviously none of the teams are saying much about the nature of the work they are doing at Sepang or, indeed, how close the bikes being ridden are to the 'finished' article but the fact is that it took Stoner no time at all to get up to speed and he had given the rest of the grid a day's head start to get back in the groove after the winter lay off. "Look upon my works ye mighty and despair!" said Stoner, as his crew chief Christian Gasperini nodded agreement at the back of the Sepang garage.
Repsol Honda MotoGP prototype CRT model for 2014
And, from the horse's mouth, via the laptop of Repsol Honda press officer, star of Parc Fermee last year, the man called Rhys – Casey Stoner said something like: "It was great to be able to ride today and everything went pretty well, although I would have liked to have done a few more laps. We spent most of the day on the new chassis comparing it back to back with the one we had in Valencia and we found a good direction and where we want to go. As usual it would be great to take some elements from one chassis and some from the other, but at least we found the direction we are happy to follow. We used the hard front tyre this afternoon but found we had more chattering with it so we have to work on this, there is still room for improvement. We didn't get a chance to use the new spec tyres that Bridgestone have brought here, we'll try them out tomorrow and go from there".
Sepang MotoGP test, February 1 2012, day two (of three) times
1 Casey Stoner 2:00.895 - - 29 laps
2 Ben Spies 2:01.052 +0.157 +0.157 37
3 Jorge Lorenzo 2:01.068 +0.016 +0.173 40
4 Dani Pedrosa 2:01.508 +0.440 +0.613 35
5 Cal Crutchlow 2:01.565 +0.057 +0.670 42
6 Hector Barbera 2:01.788 +0.223 +0.893 50
7 Valentino Rossi 2:01.886 +0.098 +0.991 44
8 Alvaro Bautista 2:01.933 +0.047 +1.038 46
9 Andrea Dovizioso 2:02.160 +0.227 +1.265 42
10 Nicky Hayden 2:02.354 +0.194 +1.459 41
11 Stefan Bradl 2:02.414 +0.060 +1.519 41
12 Karel Abraham 2:02.598 +0.184 +1.703 66
13 Katsuyuki Nakasuga 2:02.941 +0.343 +2.046 40
14 Franco Battaini 2:04.311 +1.370 +3.416 38
15 Colin Edwards 2:05.603 +1.292 +4.708 37
16 Ivan Silva 2:10.297 +4.694 +9.402 16
17 Jordi Torres 2:11.893 +1.596 +10.998 2
18 Robertino Pietri 2:12.546 +0.653 +11.651 5