STONER DUCATI SHOU

MCN EX­CLU­SIVE Fast Aussie says the new GP16 is good enough tot win and be­lieves a golden op­por­tu­nity for glory

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - IN QATAR MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Dou­ble world cham­pion Casey Stoner needed less than a full day of test­ing to de­clare that Ducati’s lat­est GP16 ma­chine is good enough to win.

The Aus­tralian took to the track for a two-day test orig­i­nally sched­uled for three weeks ago but can­celled af­ter Ducati fell foul of rules banning test­ing at any track two weeks prior to a race.

Fol­low­ing un­ex­pected heavy rain on day one of the test, the con­di­tions cleared on the sec­ond day where Stoner was able to com­plete 65 laps on the GP16 ma­chine. With his much an­tic­i­pated feed­back to Ducati engi­neers that the per­for­mance in­crease over the 2015 bike means the GP16 is ab­so­lutely ca­pa­ble of win­ning races this sea­son.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to MCN, Stoner went on to say that he be­lieves Ducati missed a golden op­por­tu­nity for vic­tory in the open­ing race of the sea­son at Qatar 10 days ago.

“I think the GP16 had a good chance of win­ning the race in Qatar, if things had panned out a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. Plus there’s still a load of room for im­prove­ment. All the man­u­fac­tur­ers are go­ing to say that ob­vi­ously, but know­ing this bike and spend­ing time on it there def­i­nitely is.

“To be com­pet­i­tive al­ready is good, and hav­ing room to move for­ward is even bet­ter. We’re go­ing to have to wait a lit­tle longer, but there’s po­ten­tial. They started well last year, but as an over­all pack­age, the bike feels stronger this year, so that’s a good place to be.”

Get­ting his first op­por­tu­nity to test the new ma­chine, hav­ing con­ducted all his pre­vi­ous test­ing on the GP15, it took only a hand­ful of laps in damp con­di­tions be­fore Stoner was able to high­light the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two bikes.

“I went out and in on the GP16 be­fore it rained on the first day, but felt the dif­fer­ence first lap out. That’s pos­i­tive and I couldn’t feel any neg­a­tives! It felt more pro­gres­sive, smoother, and like it has more feel­ing on cor­ner en­try. It’s very, very dif­fer­ent, you can feel things in the chas­sis stiff­ness right away. It’s more pro­gres­sive, more for­giv­ing.”

And when asked to sin­gle out the big­gest ad­van­tage of the new bike, Stoner’s first thoughts turned to the huge-horse­power en­gine that al­lowed the fac­tory rid­ers to slip­stream their way past the en­tire field at Qatar.

“It’s very, very quick! It’s some­thing Ducati are fan­tas­tic at – we’ve got a very quick en­gine and it’s very ride­able; some­thing it didn’t have the last time I was here! It’s got great torque, lots of power – it’s the com­plete pack­age.

“So now know­ing that we have a great en­gine, it’s every­thing else we have to work on. Ev­ery­one thought that los­ing the two-litre ad­van­tage would close the gap, but it’s opened up in­stead and I love it when that sort of stuff hap­pens!”

De­spite be­ing se­ri­ously im­pressed with the new bike, Stoner re­mains adamant that he has no plans to race even if he has a clear cut op­por­tu­nity to do so as a re­place­ment for the in­jured Danilo Petrucci who con­tin­ues to re­cover from a bro­ken hand in­jured at the Phillip Is­land test and fur­ther ag­gra­vated at Qatar.

Race-win­ner Lorenzo smashed eight-year-old lap record on Miche­lins For Ducati de­sign chiefs, Stoner’s feed­back was worth the wait

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