+ STONER FASTEST!
Stoner shines while Lorenzo takes time to get to grips with new bike
Casey Stoner topped the opening day of the season’s first Motogp test at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit, shattering the lap record as he joined the regular field in his role as Ducati’s test rider.
And while he’s only testing for the Italian firm, the 2017 Ducati that will carry Jorge Lorenzo’s ambitious Motogp championship bid has the potential to be competitive without wings, according to the Australian, who showed exactly what the package is capable of, despite not riding a Grand Prix machine for over six months.
Winglets are now banned in Motogp with strict regulations allowing only one fairing design update during the season. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’igna was an adventurous leader in aero development and it was feared that the winglet ban could have a negative impact on handling and performance.
But even with that, Stoner was able to set a blistering pace on the opening day of action, finishing the day under the existing lap record and well clear of fellow Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso.
“The new bike feels very good without winglets and I feel that the transition from wings is heading in the right direction,” Stoner said. “For me the big positives without wings are that you can get the bike to turn a little easier and pick it up easier, it feels lighter in the change of direction. But we can still improve the braking stability because for the past two years all the data has been based on wings.
“We need to find the balance to make it a little more comfortable on corner entry. We are heading in the right direction and the reality is everyone is always looking for more grip and braking stability.”
However, the wingless fairing being used at Sepang is almost certainly not the final solution for the opening race in Qatar, with Dall’igna working on other variations for later tests.
Positive steps have also been made with the GP17 in what Stoner believes is a crucial area in the search for what he reckons is Motogp’s holy grail - maximizing the transition to the fatter area of the rear tyre on corner exit.
“To make the bike a complete package we need to get it to turn better on the exit and finish off the corner,” Stoner said. “The big thing in Motogp is you’ve got to get these bikes upright and get the power down and the quicker you can get on the throttle and do that the better it is.”
Chassis development will also be a major focus during the winter tests, with the aim of giving Lorenzo just what he needs to make a strong start to the season.
“There are small differences in a lot of areas but I like the reaction from mid-corner to exit,” said Stoner. “At the moment the chassis doesn’t feel too nervous. But we still have a lot of new things to try and get some comparative data but at the moment the times are coming quite easy.”
Stoner also says that Lorenzo is in for a pleasant surprise with the latest edition of the Desmosedici V4 engine, already regarded as Motogp’s fastest motor. A focus on better mid-range response and a smoother first touch of the throttle will be welcomed especially by Lorenzo with his precise cornering style.
Stoner added: “We have been working at making the engine a little sweeter coming off that first touch of the throttle and the latest version is better from the mid-range all the way through. It just feels softer and works much better in conjunction with the traction control, more progressive.”
‘The new bike feels very good without winglets – it turns a little easier’ CASEY STONER
Rossi beat his Lorenzo: team-mate in title “Surprised, not table in 2016 disappointed”