Casey Stoner makes Ducati return at private Sepang test

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Two-time MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner made his on-track Ducati return on Saturday during a private test at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Stoner raced for Ducati from 2007 until 2010, winning the championship in his first season with the Italian manufacturer.

The Australian moved to Honda for 2011 and took a second world title before walking away from MotoGP at the end of 2012.

Stoner raced for Honda at last year’s 8 Hours of Suzuka and offered to replace the injured Dani Pedrosa for a handful of MotoGP rounds last year, only for the team to draft in Hiroshi Aoyama.

Stoner announced last year that he would be joining Ducati for 2016 as a brand ambassador and test rider, with his first run-out coming at Sepang on Saturday.

Completing 54 laps, Stoner posted a fastest lap time of 2:02.1, and revelled in the opportunity to get back on a MotoGP bike.

“It was a great experience today with the Ducati Team. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but the whole team was fantastic, I was welcomed in the best way and we worked well together,” Stoner said.

“I still need a little more time to return to a competitive level and find the right feeling because I haven’t ridden a MotoGP bike for a year and haven’t been on a race bike for six months.

“But it was a positive first day, we immediately found a good feeling with the bikes and tires, quicker than I would have expected. We have many things to try and I still have to get used to the bike, but overall I’m happy.”

Stoner was due to enjoy a second day of private test running at Sepang on Sunday, but Ducati has now opted to postpone his participation until next week for the official MotoGP test, offering Stoner a chance to go up against the current grid.