Casey Stoner taking his Ducati Desmosedici GP9 to the limit around the Estoril circuit in Portugal on Friday was a welcome sight for everyone involved in the MotoGP World Championship, after the Australian unfortunately missed the last three rounds due to illness – effectively ending his 2009 title hopes.
It was a relief for the rider himself and the Ducati Marlboro team that Stoner was able to immediately get back on the pace and that he appeared to be in good shape physically after lapping in 1’37.966 in FP1, to end the day fourth on the timesheet, 0.781s behind paceman Jorge Lorenzo.
“It was a good feeling to be back out there,” Stoner told motogp.com afterwards. “I didn’t watch the last three races, because it is very difficult for a rider who wants to be competing. It has been very difficult to sit at home doing nothing. But today things felt very good.”
He continued, “I’ve got some slight arm pump issues, which I need to sort out before Saturday, but that happens whenever you are off the bike for too long. To be honest though my physical condition feels much better than in the last races I rode and I’m looking forward to what Saturday brings.”
The ex-World Champion even had time to test a new part on Friday, as he explained, saying, “We are using a new fairing which we will test throughout the weekend back-to-back with the original fairing. We have reduced the side profile of the fairing a lot to try and make the bike easier in windy conditions and also on changes of direction on the fast corners.”