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