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Stoner and Locatelli encouraged by test

Stoner and Locatelli encouraged by test

Stoner and Locatelli encouraged by test

Casey Stoner and Roberto Locatelli may be chalk and cheese in terms of approach and riding style but they both concurred that the factory Aprilia has advanced considerably since they last contested a 250cc World Championship.

The LCR team pair were in Jerez earlier this week for three days of tests, with Stoner clocking the fastest lap of the session with a stunning time of 1'43.714 despite cold track conditions. The Australian teenager competed in the 250cc class with Lucio Cecchinello's team in his rookie season in 2002 before spending two years in 125cc and is encouraged by his results so far.

"I was riding a bit carefully when I first went out, just to get confident with the bike and the track, which was very slippery because of the freezing cold," explained Stoner, who crashed on the first and third day without injury.

"Lap by lap I felt more comfortable and I set my best time without any particular effort. The Aprilia has improved a lot, especially in the acceleration and in the chassis setting, but apart from that I can't really compare it to the bike I rode in 2002 because I can't remember.

"But I've always had a close relationship with Lucio and the rest of the team and I got on well with the new technical staff so I basically I'm feeling confident about the season. Now I've had a taste of the action I'm looking forward to it even more!"

Locatelli has had two previous spells in the 250cc class (1995-96 and 2000-01) and took a cautious approach to his second test on the new bike.

"The Aprilia now is considerably different to the one I used in the past," said the former 125cc World Champion. "Now it's more ‘furious'! In fact I suffered a small crash on the first day but the track conditions were not perfect because of the icy cold.

"They've made giant strides in the electronic equipment and now the RSW 250 is more suitable to anybody, even if it's very particular and there‘s a big quantity of horsepower to manage.

"That's the reason why I used this test session to study the bike in the best way in order to get the right settings suitable to my way of riding. I want to thank the new technical staff because they made me feel at my ease immediately."

Cecchinello added his satisfaction at the test and his admiration for two riders at the opposite ends of their careers. "Both Casey and Roberto are very good riders, I hold them in high esteem," said the former rider.

"Their approach with the bike is totally different; on one hand there's the grit and the strong willpower of a 19-year-old kid, and on the other the experience and high level technical ability of a World Champion like Roberto. I am sure that they will not disappoint me and I will do my best to support them during the season."

250cc, 2005, Casey Stoner, Roberto Locatelli

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