The test riders took care of raising the curtain this morning on the Sepang winter tests. The session began at eleven AM local time since the track was still wet from the rain that had fallen yesterday, but Casey Stoner already has everyone on their feet.
Indeed, because after not even four laps and with the track in less than perfect conditions, the Australian pulled a time of 2’01”1 out of his hat. It was an impressive lap done by the Ducati rider astride the new GP18. His performance is just two seconds slower than the time that earned Dani Pedrosa pole position in October (1’59”212). Remember that all the test riders used the same tyres as last season today and then they will be passing the baton to the championship riders on Sunday.
In short, Casey always sets his own pace as confirmation of that timeless talent that has always been his. Behind him was the Honda ridden by tester Hiroshi Aoyama (2’05”9), followed by Stefan Bradl’s (+2'06"2), making his début in Sepang as test rider for the manufacturer with the Golden Wing. A bit farther back, on the other hand, was Matteo Baiocco astride his Aprilia (2’06”5), just three tenths behind the German. Also participating in the Malaysian appetizer was Michele Pirro.
Tomorrow, on the other hand, we’ll see Sylvain Guintoli in action with Suzuki. On the same bike, we’ll also see Michael Dunlop, Josh Waters and Toni Elias. This is recognition for the results achieved last year in their respective championships.