Dual MotoGP champion Casey Stoner will continue his V8 Supercars initiation on Friday, the Red Bull driver taking to the track for his first official test since his race debut in Adelaide three weeks ago.
The 27-year-old made up 14 positions in just his second ever race in his Red Bull Pirtek Holden after tyre dramas saw a premature end to his first race.
And with that experience, and free of the daunting cement calls that surround the Adelaide circuit, Stoner is champing at the bit to be let loose at Queensland Raceway.
“He’s definitely skilled and showing us the signs that in time he will be every bit as competent as the other drivers we get to work with,” team principal Adrian Burgess said.
“It’s exciting for him and it’s exciting for us and we’ve just got to be careful not to put too much pressure on him. We’re not expecting him to be winning races yet. It’s still early days. We’ve got to keep a check on expectations and be realistic as to how quickly he’ll adapt to these cars and this style of racing. He just needs as much time in the car to understand and adapt to it.”
And while he hasn’t raced since Adelaide, Stoner has spent some time behind the wheel of his Triple Eight-engineered Holden, having contested the ultimate speed comparison at both the Top Gear Festival and Australian Grand Prix.
His involvement wasn’t a fluke.
“The whole idea of putting Casey in the car for the speed comparisons at Top Gear and the AGP was to get him more experience behind the wheel,” ATB said.
“It lets him see different circuits and drive the car in different conditions. They’re only minor things but it’s all good experience that he needs. And we want to give him that experience.
“As much as he didn’t get an opportunity to go and do a 10-15 lap race, it was still good track time for him. That’s just part of the learning curve he needs to go through, to understand a V8 Supercar and become a more accomplished driver.”
Stoner has had a bounce in his step since Adelaide, having thoroughly enjoyed his first encounter, but he is anything but satisfied. He wants to get the best out of himself.
“Every time he gets in the car he gets more experience so the next time he gets in, he’s always that bit more comfortable and confident,” ATB said.
“All these days are important for him and us at the moment. He knows he has a long road in front of him but I think he’s enjoying it.”
Stoner’s next race will be in Perth on May the weekend of May 3.
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