Casey Stoner Makes MotoGP Return At Private Ducati Test - Will Ride In Official Sepang Test

Casey Stoner got the first testing miles of his return to Ducati under his belt on Saturday. The Australian started slowly and steadily doing a lot of short runs to get a feel for the Ducati Desmosedici GP15, on which he spent most of the day, before upping the pace later in the afternoon. Journalists present at the test said Stoner looked a little stiff in his early laps, not getting either elbow or knee down, but soon started to relax, and look more like his old self.

He had every reason to be wary: the last time Stoner rode a race bike on the road was during the Suzuka 8 Hours, where a throttle cable malfunction saw him thrown from the bike, injuring his scapula and tibia in the process. Furthermore, this was his first time on a MotoGP bike for a year, his first time riding the Ducati GP15 - a very different beast indeed to the GP10, the last Ducati Stoner raced - and his first time on the Michelins. Despite that, he told reporters he was very happy with how the test went. "I haven't ridden one of these bikes in over a year," Stoner said. "Haven't ridden Michelins. New bike. Everything. So I'm really surprised by the end of the day how we got on with it."

Stoner praised the both the power and the power delivery of the Desmosedici. It had "grunt everywhere," Stoner said. He was also positive about the aerodynamics and the stability of the bike under braking. All of the bike was very good, and he had been surprised at just how comfortable he had felt on the bike.

Stoner was also asked about the spec electronics, and how they felt. He had been impressed at just how good the spec software already was, he said. The electronics felt as good as they were just a couple of years ago, rather than the eight or nine which Valentino Rossi had said. Stoner felt that if anything, the electronics were still too good. What was needed was to go back to the electronics of 2006, where they have very limited influence.

No official times were released, though Stoner was apparently not too far off the pace. The fastest lap recorded by Peter McLaren of Crash.net was 2'03, but McLaren said he had only sampled a few laps, not every single lap which the Australian put in. Italian Sky TV commentator Guido Meda claimed that Stoner's fastest lap was a 2'02.1, set on the GP15 using old tires previously used by Ducati's other test rider Michele Pirro. 2'02.1 is entirely respectable for Stoner's first time back on the bike after such a long time away, and on a machine which is entirely new to him. The race lap record is a 2'00.606 set by Jorge Lorenzo during the 2015 race, while the pole record is held by Dani Pedrosa, who set a 1'59.053. During testing last year, Marc Marquez set an unofficial record of 1'58.867, but that was after three days of testing, and on Bridgestone tires. 

Despite being relatively quick, Stoner once again emphasized he had no real interest in a return to racing. "I'm not here to kick start my career," he told reporters. Instead, he saw his role as doing everything he could to help Ducati achieve the results he believed they deserved. A wildcard would provide an ideal test environment, he said, but he had no intention of doing one at the moment. For a full report on what Casey Stoner said at Sepang, see Peter McLaren's story over on Crash.net.

Stoner was due to continue his test on Sunday, but a last-minute change of plan after a debrief with Ducati engineers sees him sitting out the second day of the private test. Instead, Stoner will take part in the official IRTA test at Sepang, due to run from 1st to 3rd February. Ducati decided they had other things that needed testing on Sunday and Monday, and that was best left to Michele Pirro.

Below is the press release from Ducati on the first day of private testing with Michele Pirro and Casey Stoner:


Stoner returns to the track at Sepang for his first run as Ducati Team test-rider

Casey Stoner returned to the track today on the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Ducati Team at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. It was a welcome return for the Australian rider, two-time MotoGP World Champion, who had not ridden a Ducati since the Valencia round in 2010. Stoner completed a total of 54 laps on the 2015 model Desmosedici GP machine, setting a best time of 2m02.1s on his final run late in the afternoon.

Michele Pirro also went out on track this morning, but just for a few laps. The Italian rider tested a 2016-spec Desmosedici GP bike fully equipped with instruments and sensors and also carried out a fuel consumption test.

Both Ducati test-riders will be back on track tomorrow for the last day of private testing, before the official IRTA test that runs thru February 1-3.

Casey Stoner (Ducati Desmosedici GP #27)

“It’s been a really good experience today with the Ducati Team. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but everybody has been fantastic, welcoming me and working with me to try and get the best out of myself and this bike. I need some time to get back to speed and get the feeling back, because I haven’t ridden a MotoGP bike for one year and any bike at all for six months. It was a very productive first day, we got comfortable with the bike and the tyres a lot more quickly than I thought I would. We’ve got a lot of things to test and get myself a little bit more acquainted with the bike but generally I’m very happy. The Desmosedici GP has a lot of potential, hopefully we can give the right input and help the two Andreas to try and achieve something great this year. I’m pretty happy and surprised with my lap time to be honest, hopefully the next day we can be a bit more comfortable after sleeping on it. It’s been fantastic working with Gabriele (Conti) again and with Marco (Palmerini) and Gigi (Dall’Igna): everyone has been really professional. So far, so good!”

Michele Pirro (Ducati Desmosedici GP #51)

“Today I only did a few laps because the schedule only included a test of electronic components followed by one for fuel economy, so once I had finished my work, the team concentrated on Casey’s debut. Tomorrow we’ll do a few more things before the first of the three days of official tests that get underway on Monday. The feeling is good and even on Wednesday we managed to do a good job. I am sure that we can get some good results, and having tested both Iannone’s and Dovizioso’s bikes I feel confident, despite the fact that the track conditions here are not very good.”

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Comments

I have to be honest and say "i never thought" I would see Casey back on the Desmo.
Motogp.com broadcast the Sepang test, I will be watching.
A 2.02 at Sepang, taking it easy on a bike he's never ridden. Not too shabby in my books.

How could anything top the 2015 season? STONER WILDCARDS!!! Bring it on.

Having always been a bit ambivalent about CS27 - don't love him or hate him - I'm surprised how pleased I am to see him back involved. I know we're not going to see him race regularly, but I really hope he and the team are up for a wild card or two. That would be fascinating.

It's hard to see them deciding to reschedule and move him to the public test days, unless they are confident that he is not going to embarrass them with slow times, and that he is going to benefit their development program.

Just where Stoner starts out his new Ducati adventure... Consistent low 2.02s throughout last year's race would have had him first factory Ducati home, I think ( well, Iannone's race didn't happen, of course.. and Dovi never really hit his straps either). But, since we have almost NO realistic measure of current Michelin performance vs last year's Bridgestones, and the track conditions haven't been amplified other than by Pirro's comment, it will be only by direct comparison that we will start to get a feeling for Stoner's real 'baseline' performance.

None of the pictures I have seen show Stoner really giving the bike the full welly, though; more like a rider concentrating on absorbing every bit of information coming his way.

Am I the only one who finds it ironic, that probably the most keenly watched 'new rider on the bike' stories for the last nearly a decade have been about riders jumping on Ducatis? How many of the riders themselves will be more than a little interested to see him close-up on track, I wonder.

My attention is drawn to CS27 & Ducati. I am first & foremost a motorcycle race fan, happy to see a winner win.

I will say I feel uncomfortable regarding the ongoing prospect of Stoner racing/wildcard becoming a little long in the tooth.

Ducati in my books have pulled off what 2yrs ago was unspeakable, if 29 & 04 do well & Pirro/Stoner back it up with decent results HRC and Yamaha will have a problem(maybe;)

Personally I have no idea what is going on,, trying to figure out if Ducati are playing us and ready for a full assault at the title/and or triple crown_ they have the riders????

Mostly, Stoner raced inside his head as a contest between himself, the bike, and the circuit at the time.

I personally believe, one of the few races he did that he took any notice of the competition, was P.I 2009, where he tormented Rossi from in front, led Rossi on to sniff clean air, then simply shut him down and disappeared. And Rossi knew it.

Most other times, Stoner raced himself and the conditions. Donington in the wet, 2007: winning by 11 second over Edwards ( and 21.8 seconds over Rossi); Silverstone, 2011: 15 seconds over Dovi, on the same bike. There are other examples, where Stoner simply rode to the flag unheeding of whoever was behind.

As a 'racer', Stoner utilises his skills to dispose of the impediment to getting to the flag fastest: Catalunya 2007, for example. He doesn't do cage-fighting, he does contesting the limits of the man-machine interface.

If he does P.I as a wildcard, it will be because he wants to test himself on the new Ducati against the circuit he owns. If Ducati support him to do that, I suggest it will be because they would like to bank some points for the manufacturer's championship.

It looks like Stoner has timed this transition perfectly. The first year of spec electronics and Michelins will level the playing field, with Ducati finally ready to step up again with Daligna at the helm. It will be a bitter pill for Rossi if Stoner jumps on board right at the moment Ducati can taste success again and maximise his input.

The interview video posted above this article will clarify your statement. Watch and listen the answer to the electronics question from 9:27 - 10:45 and you will hear no mention of Valentino Rossi's name.

I believe that David's mention of the Valentino Rossi statement is as a comparison to what Stoner said - not a Stoner quote.

Pedantically the Subject should have been "The electronics felt as good as they were a couple of years ago", rather than the eight or nine which Valentino Rossi had said. Funny how misplaced "quote" references can totally change a sentence isn't it?

My marks were not to quote Stoner, merely to show the line came from David's text. I know Stoner just said 'The electronics... ... a couple of years ago.' But it still feels as a little tickle for Rossi.

i can only hope that the few number of responses to the above article bodes well for casey being left alone when/if he pulls a one-off race.
maybe if we all leave him alone he will decide to give this racing thing a go again.