For Ducati Team
The opening test of the 2009 preseason got underway on a cloudy but dry day at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia today, with Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden both on track – the Australian returning to action after missing the previous
test as he recovered from a scaphoid operation.
Stoner is still not in peak condition and unable to push too hard, with his wrist feeling weak after three months out of action, yet he was on the pace throughout the day. The former World Champion reported positive feedback from the GP9 and was happy with the work done on the new carbon chassis and tyres.
"This morning was really difficult, I really didn't feel comfortable on the bike. My wrist is still in a lot of pain and I honestly hoped it would be in better shape than this after three months since the operation. Even though the lap times were good from the start the wrist was still giving me a lot of problems – it is weak and painful under braking, especially in the first left-hand turn. I can't do more than four or five laps at a time and there's nothing I can do about that at the moment, other than hope that it improves over time”, he confessed. “Sepang is a physically demanding circuit and probably not the best place to be riding for the first time after three months out. I preferred not to ride too much and tire myself out and hopefully it will already be a bit better tomorrow. Freddy, our physiotherapist, has a bit of work to do tonight! The GP9 is running well and I have the same positive feeling as the last two tests at Barcelona and Valencia.
The chassis is completely different and we'll have to work on improving the set-up but we have a good starting point and we can use the GP8 as a reference. The power delivery has improved and now we have more torque, which helps on the exit of the slower corners. Bridgestone have brought two compounds here that both work well, although I prefer the harder one because even though it is a little more difficult to ride it guarantees a more consistent performance."
Hayden set about his Sepang testing programme in methodical manner and with his usual hard-working approach, making as few changes as possible to the bike in the early part of the three-day session. The American is happy with the new bike's performance in corner entry but despite adapting well to the new Bridgestone tyres he is still looking for more stability from the bike in corner exit.
“We started out with the same set-up as Jerez, because after two months without riding it was better to go with something we knew. We haven't made massive changes over the course of the day, mainly because before we do that I need to pick up my own pace. The bike feels good on the brakes and it is stable and precise in the fast corners”, he said. “I'm struggling a bit on corner exit though because it still tends to pump quite a lot and I'm not used to that yet. We're working to reduce it and we've got a couple of ideas that we'll check out over the next two days. I like the new tyre rule. We'd got to a point where we were working too much on the tyres and there wasn't enough time to work on the set-up of the bike. Now we just have a choice of two tyres, both of which work well even though I'm not able to get the most out of the harder compound yet, and that makes the job much easier for the team.”