Casey Stoner finished day one of the Jerez test in a close third position, a promising performance at a circuit which is 'like kryptonite' for the Ducati Desmosedici.
Stoner qualified seventh and finished eleventh, after several off-track excursions, during last season's Spanish Grand Prix and claimed fifth during his title winning 2007 season.
“Jerez has been our weak point for the last couple of seasons and for some reason our bike just doesn't like it here,” confirmed Casey. “There used to be a lot of bumps that unsettled it but to be fair a lot of them were ironed out when they re-laid the surface and now it's hard to put my finger on the problem. I think every Ducati rider is in the same boat - Jerez is like our kryptonite!”
Stoner nevertheless spent a substantial amount of time leading the field, before slipping to a close third position behind Fiat Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
The Australian, who was just 0.115sec slower than Lorenzo, later explained that the aim of the final pre-season test is to search specifically for Jerez solutions, since the GP seems to work well for him everywhere else.
“Basically we're not working on general set-up because we know the data we get here will be useless everywhere else - the target is to work on finding something that will help us get around this circuit and limit the damage when the race comes around,” said the #27.
“As far as my wrist is concerned, the hard-braking left-handers are tricky but other than that it is okay and I have no concerns about going race distance,” declared the 2008 title runner-up.
Stoner was once again substantially quicker than his fellow Ducati riders, with new factory team-mate Nicky Hayden the next best Desmosedici rider in ninth position, one second slower than Stoner.
“We were lucky today because it looked like the weather was going to be a disaster,” said Hayden of Saturday's wet start. “This morning we decided to go out and do some laps anyway just to check the performance of the wet tyres on a damp track because we won't have any intermediates this year.
“When it dried out in the afternoon we found that the bike had improved in some areas but there are other things we really need to work on. We'll speak to Filippo Preziosi this evening, analyse the data and try to do much better tomorrow because it would be nice to be pushing near the front before we go to Qatar,” admitted the American.
Sunday will mark the final day of pre-season testing and feature the special 45-minute 'qualifying' shootout to win a new BMW. Stoner took the prize during wet conditions last season.