SEPANG - MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner shrugged off an ailing back to post the fastest time Wednesday in pre-season tests on the sport's new 1,000cc bikes at Malaysia's Sepang circuit. The Australian Honda rider, who won the championship in 2007 and again last year, had been sidelined on day one Tuesday after pulling a back muscle while stretching.
Yamaha's British rider Cal Crutchlow rounded out the top five with a time of 2:01.565. "Yamaha (is) looking strong and competitive," Stoner said. "Jorge is doing a great job. Ben is starting the season strong. Hopefully they can continue that." The testing session marked an emotional return for riders to the Sepang circuit for the first time since Honda rider Marco Simoncelli died there in a shocking crash in October's Malaysian MotoGP. Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi of Ducati, who is looking to make up for a disappointing 2011 campaign, ended in 7th place on 2:01.886. The 32-year-old Italian last year failed to win a race for the first time in his 15-year career.