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Stoner returns to Aprilia

Stoner returns to Aprilia

Stoner returns to Aprilia

Casey Stoner was back on board a 250cc Aprilia today after two seasons in the 125cc World Championship. The Australian youngster contested his first full season with the Italian factory in the quarter-litre class in 2002 before stepping down to the minor class in an attempt to win the title, first for Aprilia and then KTM.

However, after a season fraught by bad luck and injuries with the Austrian factory the 19 year old today returned to the team run by former rider Lucio Cecchinello in a private test at Jerez and was quickly back in the swing, lapping within three tenths of a second of Daijiro Kato's lap record as he clocked a best time of 1'44.663.

"I'm really happy to be back on a 250 and with Lucio's team," commented Stoner, who was joined on track by new team-mate Roberto Locatelli. "It was a hard decision to leave KTM but I took it because I want to try and win races in this category. Today the only objective was to rack up as many kilometres as possible and get used to the bike again.

"I've been riding the 2004 bike and it's hard to compare it to what I rode in 2002 because I can barely remember! But I am really happy to be here and I'm confident I can achieve things with this team in 2005. I very much enjoyed my time at KTM and would like to thank everybody there and at Red Bull."

Stoner and Locatelli were joined on track today by Mirko Giansanti, who looks certain to step up to the 250cc class on an Aprilia with the Matteoni Racing team he rode for in the 125cc series last season. Factory Aprilia rider Alex de Angelis also rode although his lap times were not released.

Unofficial lap times:

Casey Stoner: 1'44.663
Roberto Locatelli: 1'45.340
Mirko Giansanti: 1'46.894

250cc, 2004, Casey Stoner

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