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Stoner leads day one at Sepang

Casey Stoner fastest on first day of 2011 MotoGP track action.
New Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner began 2011 exactly as he had finished 2010 - on top of the MotoGP testing timesheets, this time at Sepang in Malaysia.

Fastest at the end of his factory RCV debut at last November's Valencia test, Ducati's former world champion moved steadily up the order on Tuesday, eventually breaking 0.403sec clear of Jorge Lorenzo on the 47th of his 52 laps.

“Very positive day,” said Stoner. “At the beginning it took some time to get used to the bike again, but I soon felt comfortable and we had a good day. We didn't change the set-up too much compared to the one we had in Valencia and I am please to see that even if the circuit is different, it still works pretty well here in Sepang.

“We did some work later on with the engine braking to decrease some chattering and looks like we found a good solution. In the next two days we will start testing something new but anyway for me, it was a very good way to come back on track after the winter break.”

Stoner's team-mate Dani Pedrosa - injured during the closing stages of the 2010 championship - finished third fastest, having led the timesheets for much of the day.

"I 'm pretty happy with how things went today,” said Pedrosa, who lapped 0.450sec slower than Stoner. “My priority was to see how I was on the bike after so long without riding and the feeling has been positive. Obviously I still have less strength under braking and lack of stability in the shoulder with the direction changes, but the cramps have gone and this is very positive for me.

“We have time to continue with my physical training and gain the strength that I need for when the season starts. I honestly didn't expect to do so many laps [61] today. I started with the 2010 bike to get the feeling back and because in the second half of the season our bike was competitive and we want to begin improving from there. Then I tried a new swingarm and a new chassis, in the last two runs, and my best lap time has been with the new parts, so it's also positive. The plan for tomorrow is to test the new engine."

Unlike his team-mates, who used the 2010 fork, third Repsol rider Andrea Dovizioso starting this morning with the 2011 front fork – in addition to other new parts.

"I'm happy because this year we are starting from a very good base. All Honda riders are very competitive so I'm confident and this is an extra boost for me,” said Dovi, who was eighth fastest.

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