Stoner shines while Lorenzo takes time to get to grips with new bike

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - By Colin Young MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

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”

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