Casey Stoner admits he hadn't anticipated being so emphatically fast on the opening day of the Australian Grand Prix.
While the Australian has won the past five races on his home track, he came into this year's event with his injured worsening and his form uncertain. It took him all of four laps to get up to speed, however, and he duly spent almost the entirety of the opening two practice sessions one second clear of the field. He was also able to lap in the 1m29s, while only teammate Dani Pedrosa broke the 1m31s barrier.
"It was a very positive first day, we were pretty quick to get on the pace and to be honest I didn't expect to achieve the lap times we did," Stoner confessed. "With the extra horsepower we have this year it's a little easier to get around this place quickly!
"The times we were able to do in the first session were pretty good but I thought everybody would improve a lot more in the second session – but we were able to go quite a lot faster than everybody with almost race distance on our soft tires and then we put the hard tire on and were able to improve again.
"This is very positive at this stage of the weekend but we'll have to wait for tomorrow and Sunday to see where everyone else is. My ankle is in a lot worse condition than in Motegi but coming here, there are a lot less right-hand corners, it's nice to take a bit of weight off it."
Stoner's form could hurt Pedrosa's title-bid, with the Spaniard needing to close down a 23-point gap to Jorge Lorenzo over the remaining two races. Pedrosa was at least able to best Lorenzo in second practice.
"I only tried the soft rear tire today, so tomorrow will be important to test the hard compound and some different ideas on the electronics and suspension to improve the feeling," Pedrosa explained. "Casey is going very fast here, as expected, so let's see if it stays dry tomorrow and we can work on the pace and close the gap to Casey."