Friday 1st February 2008
Casey Stoner lapped faster than any other rider in history at Phillip Island today, his stunning lap of 1'28.777 coming on the last of three days of tests at his home circuit. The reigning World Champion used a qualifying tyre on his 25th of 51 laps, although his pace during a race simulation was equally impressive. Only his flying lap registered outside the 1'30 mark as Stoner racked up 23 consecutive fast laps with relentless precision. Only the heat of the track in the scorching afternoon sun interrupted the local hero's progress, three laps short of the intended total, but his satisfaction was still complete.
Marco Melandri was also quite satisfied after spending another day working intensely on finding a good feeling with his new bike in race trim as opposed to trying for a fast time on a qualifying tyre. Today he completed a marathon 108 laps, including a race simulation.
The pair now have two weeks' rest before their next important meeting at the Jerez circuit in Spain, where the MotoGP Official Test takes place from 16th to 18th February.
Casey Stoner, best time: 1:28.777 (51 laps)
"We did the race simulation with one of Bridgestone's new tyres and it went really well, even though we had to come in three laps early. The track temperature today was actually higher than it was for the race here and you could tell. Even so we managed to lap consistently in low 1.30 and that shows how well they're working in Japan. I'm also really happy with the qualifying tyre, which is the same as last year. It is a good thing that bike is not completely different to 2007 because it has allowed is to find an excellent base to start the season from already. The new version of the engine has a better delivery, especially at the bottom end, and that has allowed me to set fast times more consistently, as well as increasing tyre life. It has been a good test session but now I'm happy to have a couple of weeks to rest and train in the gym. The shoulder feels okay, it is just a little bit weak and sore because I haven't been able to work on it as much as I would have wanted but now we can do that."
Marco Melandri, best time: 1:31.377 (108 laps)
"This final day has been particularly intense for me and my crew. We've continued to work on the balance of the bike and then did some tyre tests The front is okay but I'm having some grip issues on the rear. At the moment there isn't much difference between using a new tyre and an old one so we've got plenty of room for improvement in this area. In the afternoon I did a long run and even though the lap times weren't special we learnt a lot. We know what we need to go forward and what can give us better grip to improve our speed through the corners. We're on the right tracks and I'm sure that in the next test at Jerez we'll take another step forward. For now a bit of relaxing will do me good because the last two weeks have been really hard work."
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