Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner left Sepang MotoGP test a happy rider, scoring a heavy psychological blow against his rivals
Casey Stoner, the reigning MotoGP world champion, left the three day Sepang MotoGP test on top of the time sheets, pushing 2012 title rival Jorge Lorenzo (Eneos Yamaha) into second place – 0.591s behind.
Rossi, sideways at Sepang. The man is trying.
The arrival of the tropical rain storm put paid to any plans riders may have had to throw in a qualifying tyre and 'go for a lap' which rather spoiled the fun, but it's hard to believe that there would have been any seismic changes to the order.
As in the previous two days, the Factory Hondas and Yamahas crowded the top of the timing screens, with Valentino Rossi on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 still over one second a lap off the pace of front runner Stoner.
The lap times were all impressively fast – compared to the existing 990cc MotoGP lap record – and by the time the teams come back to race at Sepang, its safe to assume that old lap time will be pulverised.
Ben Spies looks set to have a better season than in 2011 on the new 1,000cc Yamaha.
Are there any serious conclusions that can be deduced from looking into the guts of this test? Not really (which won't stop anyone trying). From the moment that the RC213V Honda was seen and heard last year, it was obvious that it was going to be a good bike. As ever, Honda's ability to test and develop bikes behind closed doors has paid off. The Yamaha M1 looks good too, considering that it was behind the curve in terms of the test time Lorenzo had on it. With Andrea Dovizioso riding injured or hurt at Sepang, the guy with the gal's name might make more progress pre-season too.
And what of Ducati? In spite of everything, in spite of the new aluminium twin-spar frame and all the chassis modifications, Rossi (and Hector Barbera) are still more than a second a lap off the pace of Stoner. Clearly, there's still work to be done if Rossi is to get onto the podium (on any step) in 2012.
Sepang MotoGP test times, day three, February 2, 2012
1 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Team 1:59.607 - - 18
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 2:00.198 +0.591 +0.591 35
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 2:00.256 +0.058 +0.649 24
4 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 2:00.495 +0.239 +0.888 16
5 Valentino Rossi Ducati Team 2:00.824 +0.329 +1.217 38
6 Hector Barbera Pramac Racing Team 2:00.929 +0.105 +1.322 34
7 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:01.108 +0.179 +1.501 25
8 Andrea Dovizioso Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:01.257+0.149 +1.650 40
9 Alvaro Bautista San Carlo Honda Gresini 2:01.384 +0.127 +1.777 31
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati Team 2:01.729 +0.345 +2.122 19
11 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 2:01.894 +0.165 +2.287 38
12 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 2:02.218 +0.324 +2.611 32
13 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Factory 2:02.334 +0.116 +2.727 27
14 Franco Battaini Ducati Team 2:03.033 +0.699 +3.426 34
15 Colin Edwards NGM Mobile Forward Racing 2:04.722+1.689 +5.115 34
16 Ivan Silva Avintia Racing 2:08.225 +3.503 +8.618 38
17 Robertino Pietri Avintia Racing 2:09.640 +1.415 +10.033 16
18 Jordi Torres Avintia Racing 2:10.184 +0.544 +10.577 29