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Le Mans race and testing pleases Stoner

Le Mans race and testing pleases Stoner

Le Mans race and testing pleases Stoner

Riding the LCR Honda, 20 year-old Australian rookie Casey Stoner staged a breathtaking late race charge to finish fourth in France. Starting from eleventh on the grid, Stoner survived the strong challenge of factory Honda rider Nicky Hayden to secure his fourth top five finish of the season. Stoner swept past Hayden for fourth place with seven laps remaining in the 28 lap race, and then resisted every move by the hard-riding American over the final stages. In a tight finish, Stoner was just 0.21s ahead at the chequered flag.

With a series of fast laps that saw him close dramatically on the lead group, Stoner set his fastest time of the race on lap 22. After struggling for bike feel on full tanks in the early stages, Stoner was eighth at the end lap one before making his mid-race surge that positioned him for a brilliant overtaking move on Hayden.

"Fourth place feels pretty damn good and again I've answered the people who said I couldn't race on worn tyres," said Stoner. "The battle with Nicky was great, it was a clean fight, but unfortunately I nearly took him out at the start of race -- I'm sorry for that, I just missed my braking a little. The mixed weather cost us set-up time and at the start my bike felt terrible, there was no way I could stay with the front guys -- I couldn't brake late enough on full tanks. By mid-race the bike started to feel more comfortable so I pushed and started to catch the leaders."

Despite strong winds and rain showers, Stoner and the Honda LCR team also completed a 43 lap test session at Le Mans yesterday. With cool, 16 degree track temperatures and frequent rain delays, conditions were not ideal but Stoner set the fastest time of 1'35.83 in a windy but mainly sunny afternoon session.

The Le Mans test focused on suspension set-up including front fork options, which Stoner did not have time try during the inclement weather of the grand prix weekend. He reported improved cornering and braking performance with the changes although the weather conditions did notallow time for crew chief Ramon Forcada to complete his planned schedule of suspension and tyre testing.

"It's been a tough day with the terrible weather but I was able to make some progress with suspension set-up, especially with some changes to the front end," commented the Australian .The main improvement has been better mid-corner side grip and turning. The wind was very strong today and it was changing direction all the time, it was difficult to ride on the limit. With the rain in the morning we almost abandoned the test at lunch-time but decided to wait, and finally got some dry track time in the afternoon."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2006, ALICE GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE, Casey Stoner

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