How can Casey Stoner not race in 2016?

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Pics: Ducati Corse

Probably because he’s got a family and a happier life in his native country, but that doesn’t stop the question being asked after Stoner ended the final day of MotoGP pre-season testing at Sepang 5th fastest, top Ducati on the timesheets, and 9th overall following three days in Malaysia and a two year racing sabbatical. “I have no intention of racing,” he reiterated, which sounds fairly concrete to us.

Surely he’s currently on a plane back to Oz thinking about the possibility of shafting Rossi and Marquez. After the clusterfuck in MotoGP last season, the series hardly needs any more soap opera storylines, although there can’t be many who wouldn’t want the #27 back in the paddock even if it is just a wildcard in 2016.

Returning to the Bologna factory behind an iffy exit from Honda, Stoner matched the two factory Andreas while working on Ducati’s switch to Michelin tyres and refinement of control electronics. Of course, we don’t know specific testing programmes, what individual riders were working on, or whether Stoner had an eleventeen million horsepower Desmo with special tyres beneath him, but his pace was clear for everyone to see. ‘It’s only testing,’ is a common adage during pre-season sorties, but these boys don’t fuck about and only comprehend one speed: harry flatters.

“All in all it’s been a very good few days for us, and I’m surprised myself that I was able to do three days of testing. Physically I feel great at the moment, but I’m sure I won’t tomorrow! It’s been a really positive test because I was able to get back up to speed right away. Today wasn’t too bad, even though we didn’t get to do a lot of laps. Two exits this morning comparing two different geometry settings, but then the rain came so we weren’t able to complete the tests. After the rain we finally got a bit of dry track time but struggled a bit with rear grip and spent too much time trying to find a balance again to move on. But as I said I’m really happy with the way things have gone, and working with Gigi (Dall’Igna) and the team has been really fantastic!”

Jorge Lorenzo obliterated the rest of the field, the only rider to lap under the 2-minute marker and half a second clear of Danilo Petrucci in second. Many ‘insiders’ predicted J-Lo wouldn’t adapt to Michelin rubber so effortlessly…



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