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Stoner sets the pace in Sepang test

Casey Stoner, Honda, Sepang test 2011Factory Honda rider Casey Stoner set the pace for his new team on the opening day of the first pre-season MotoGP test at Sepang, having set a late flier to oust world champion Jorge Lorenzo from the top of the times.

The Australian, riding a version of the 2010 RC212V and using a similar set-up to the one he had tried at Valencia at the end of 2010, lapped the Malaysian Grand Prix venue in 2m01.574s to outpace Lorenzo by 0.403s.

"Very positive day." said Stoner. "At the beginning it took some time to get used to the bike again, but I soon felt comfortable and we had a good day.

"We didn't change the set-up too much compared to the one we had in Valencia and I am pleased to see that even if the circuit is different, it still works pretty well here in Sepang. We did some work later on with the engine braking to decrease some chattering and looks like we found a good solution.

"In the next two days we will start testing something new but anyway for me, it was a very good way to come back on track after the winter break."

Dani Pedrosa was third fastest on the second of the HRC Hondas, just 0.047s off the pace of Lorenzo, while Marco Simoncelli was an impressive fourth fastest on the factory-supported Gresini Honda ahead of works Yamaha new boy Ben Spies - who crashed in the morning without injury.

Alvaro Bautista was sixth fastest as he settled into life as Suzuki's sole representative in the premier class and expressed himself pleasantly surprised with the pace of the GSV-R - equipped with a new engine and chassis.

"It's been a long time since Valencia and on my first laps I thought Suzuki made a mistake and fitted a 1000cc engine in the bike, it feels so fast after a long break!" said the Spaniard, who back-to-back tested some new 2011 Ohlins forks. "But, after some easy laps, I began to get my rhythm and to ride comfortably.

"We did some interesting testing, but to be honest the main thing today was just for me to get back to a normal level, and in the end the bike felt nice and we went quite quick, so I'm happy.

"I hope the weather stays dry, we have a big list of stuff to test and I know the guys will be working late tonight to prepare everything for tomorrow."

Hiroshi Aoyama was seventh quickest on the second Gresini bike, while Andrea Dovizioso was eighth fastest on the 2011 HRC bike. Colin Edwards and Randy de Puniet completed the top ten.

Valentino Rossi continued his adaptation to the 2011 Ducati GP11 and spent the day working on riding position. Still not at full strength from his shoulder operation, the Italian tried a new shaped fuel tank to go 12th fastest.

British rookie Cal Crutchlow, who makes his MotoGP debut with Tech 3 Yamaha this year, was 16th fastest, some 2.5s off the pace.

Pos  Rider             Team               Time       Gap
 1.  Casey Stoner      Honda              2m01.574s
 2.  Jorge Lorenzo     Yamaha             2m01.977s  + 0.403s
 3.  Dani Pedrosa      Honda              2m02.024s  + 0.450s
 4.  Marco Simoncelli  Gresini Honda      2m02.295s  + 0.721s
 5.  Ben Spies         Yamaha             2m02.332s  + 0.758s
 6.  Alvaro Bautista   Suzuki             2m02.422s  + 0.848s
 7.  Hiroshi Aoyama    Gresini Honda      2m02.483s  + 0.909s
 8.  Andrea Dovizioso  Honda              2m02.507s  + 0.933s
 9.  Colin Edwards     Tech 3 Yamaha      2m02.514s  + 0.940s
10.  Randy de Puniet   Pramac Ducati      2m03.152s  + 1.578s
11.  Kousuke Akiyoshi  Honda Test         2m03.224s  + 1.650s
12.  Valentino Rossi   Ducati             2m03.365s  + 1.791s
13.  Nicky Hayden      Ducati             2m03.508s  + 1.934s
14.  Loris Capirossi   Pramac Ducati      2m03.695s  + 2.121s
15.  Hector Barbera    Aspar Ducati       2m03.767s  + 2.193s
16.  Cal Crutchlow     Tech 3 Yamaha      2m04.009s  + 2.435s
17.  Toni Elias        LCR Honda          2m04.238s  + 2.664s
18.  Karel Abraham     Cardion Ducati     2m04.470s  + 2.896s
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