Casey Takes Hold, Day One On Home Soil
The Motorcycling World Championship travelled this weekend to the spectacular Australian track of Phillip Island, where local hero Casey Stoner started in the best possible way his home Grand Prix. The Repsol Honda Team rider led today’s two free practice sessions, despite a minor crash in the morning, in a day in which Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa finished in sixth and seventh position.
Highly motivated by competing at home, in a circuit he knows perfectly well and in front of his fans, Casey Stoner set the pace from the first minute. In fact, the Repsol rider set the fastest time of the day in only his third lap, registering 1 minute, 30 seconds and 475 thousandths. Nevertheless, a lap later the Australian lost grip in one of the few slow corners of Phillip Island and suffered a minor crash without consequences for him or his bike.
His team mates at the Repsol Honda Team, Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa, finished a little behind. Fifth and sixth, respectively, in the first session, both a bit more than one second away from Stoner. They finished sixth and seventh at the end of the day, as they were surpassed by Ben Spies in the second session. In a track with more bumps than in previous years, they suffered specially with the front. After working in the set-up of his bike, Pedrosa was able to improve by some thousandths his morning fastest time, but still far from Stoner, who in the second was again unbeatable, setting laps under 1 minute, 31 seconds up to seven times, showing a pace very superior to that of the rest of the riders.
FP1 – 1:30.475, 15 laps, 67 km.
FP2 – 1:30.535, 18 laps, 80 km.
“I don’t feel totally comfortable with the bike today and I’m sure we can improve the bike a lot. The track is certainly a lot more bumpy than last year and I think it will be very difficult to get the bike feeling 100% as the circuit is making things worse.
In general we’ve found the Honda is better in certain aspects than what we had last year but with these bumps it’s difficult to compare in other areas.
We need to get the bike riding the bumps in the front a lot better, and also find some more rear grip. There is still a lot of work before we find the right race set up and we know we can go a lot faster”.