Casey Stoner dominated the first day of practice sessions at his home track
Phillip Island. Stoner was fast from the start and set an early pace that only Jorge Lorenzo came close to.
Despite his instant speed, Stoner stated that he wasn’t totally comfortable on his Honda, and felt that there was more to come from him and the bike as they improve set-up over the duration of the weekend.
The Phillip Island circuit itself is also causing some challenges, and almost all the riders complained that the track was more bumpy and unpredictable than last year.
The rest of the Repsol Honda team had other issues and were unable to match Stoner’s performance – Dani Pedrosa struggled with rear grip finishing mid-top 10 in both sessions, and Andrea Dovizioso complained of grip issues with the front end.
The Repsol Honda riders give their thoughts on the first day of Free Practice below:
“I don’t feel totally comfortable with the bike today and I’m sure we can improve the bike a lot. The track is certainly a lot more bumpy than last year and I think it will be very difficult to get the bike feeling 100% as the circuit is making things worse. In general we’ve found the Honda is better in certain aspects than what we had last year but with these bumps it’s difficult to compare in other areas. We need to get the bike riding the bumps in the front a lot better, and also find some more rear grip. There is still a lot of work before we find the right race set up and we know we can go a lot faster”.
“It’s been a difficult first day of practice. The track has many more bumps than last year and it’s difficult to see them, maybe because the surface is very dark I don’t know, but I’ve been struggling to get a good feeling with the front. I decided to keep the hard tyre in front because it suits my riding style more, but with these bumps it’s impossible to control the bike and when I switched to the soft front tyre I couldn’t improve my time either. If the temperature drops tomorrow it will be even more complicated, but we will try our best to improve and have a good qualifying session”.
“In the morning I began calm just to get the feeling with the track and we did a decent time, but in the afternoon I struggled a lot with the rear grip, the bike was spinning a lot and we couldn’t fix it during the session. The fact that my lap times are practically the same in the morning and in the afternoon is a sign that something is not right. It’s a pity because maybe tomorrow the weather is not as nice as today, possibly colder, but I trust my team and I hope we can improve. The track is also very bumpy, much more than last year, which makes things even more difficult, there are many places where the wheels are off the ground. Anyway, we will try to make some changes on the bike and I will do my best to improve my riding and let’s see what we can do tomorrow”.
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