AUSTRALIAN Casey Stoner has issued an instant warning to his MotoGP rivals.
The 20-year-old blasted his way around the Valencia
track in Spain in his first outing on a MotoGP bike yesterday. Stoner was courted by Yamaha, but Honda eventually secured his services.
He was the fastest rookie on the track yesterday, just 0.6sec a lap slower than the pacesetter, Honda’s Nicky Hayden
Stoner was 0.1sec faster than new Honda teammate Carlos Checa
, who crashed at high speed but was uninjured.
There has been no official word on Stoner’s ride for next year — there is some debate over the final team line-up and sponsor — but he is certain to be on a fast Honda.
team boss Sito Pons was impressed with both Stoner and Checa.
"Both riders have shown great potential with the RCV and have adapted to the machine very quickly," Pons said.
"Carlos had a crash this morning but returned to the track in the afternoon and set some good times. Casey was a about a 10th off a second quicker but he had more time on the bike."
Perhaps more importantly for Stoner, he was 0.5sec faster than Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who beat him for the 250cc title this year.
Another Australian, Chris Vermeulen, tested a Suzuki MotoGP bike, his first outing on the bike, but was unable to set a fast time before bad weather set in.
He will race alongside American John Hopkins
for the factory Suzuki team.
"I will try to take that step up to fill the boots of Suzuki world champions like Barry Sheene — Barry was the guy who gave me my first chance and I shall never forget that," Vermeulen said.
Former Honda rider Sete Gibernau
was 0.1sec slower than Stoner on his first outing for Ducati at yesterday’s practice session.
The Spaniard said he would need to alter his riding style to be fast on the bike, but was happy he made the switch.
"Every minute that passes I am more convinced that I made the right decision," Gibernau said.