Casey Stoner is back in the loving arms of the Ducati family and it is as if he had never been away.
After five years with Honda, Casey Stoner is back on a red bike and 'motivated to taking Ducati to new level' in a bid to return the team to MotoGP glory.
Casey Stoner want only one thing: to see Ducati add another MotoGP world title to back-up his 2007 crown and end the nightmare of a nine-year losing streak.
From the vibe surrounding Casey Stoner's return, it is clear the 30-year-old Australian is rejuvenated by his role. And all it took to convince Stoner he made the right decision to return to the Borgo Panigale squad was to feel the surge of Desmosedici power once again. That came at Sepang when Casey Stoner, riding a GP15 with Michelin tires and a 2016 control electronics package, completed his first test with Ducati last Saturday.
It had been 1878 days since Casey Stoner last rode a Ducati, when he finished second in the 2010 Valencia GP and then departed for Honda after some tense times.
'My first thought was, wow, this bike has got some grunt and I instantly felt the Ducati DNA,' Stoner said.
'I didn't expect it. Exiting turn three at Sepang I opened the throttle and it felt like I was being ripped off the back of the bike. I was hanging off the inside as far as you can in the corners with my fingers barely on the handlebars, and then you twist to full throttle and the bike just wants to peel away from you. The Ducati has a lot of power but after a couple of corners exits I was comfortable. It's very usable with a smooth delivery.
'It is fantastic to be back and everyone at Ducati is happy to have me. I hope what I do in testing translates into improving the motorcycle for the races and takes Ducati to a new level.'
Nervous as to what to expect, the Ducati team were stunned by Stoner's pace and his precise, clinical feedback despite having not ridden a MotoGP bike for 12 months.
But his opening day, 54-lap session was enough to provide some initial views on the Ducati's handling and the standard-issue Magneti Marelli electronics for 2016.
'There are some really positive points to the bike, but I need more time to really understand it,' Stoner said.
'It feels good especially in the slow corners at Sepang like turns one, two and nie, it's very stable at maximum lean angle.
'In the faster corners I am not completely comfortable but I think some of this is coming from the Michelin tires, I need more time to understand the feeling and sensitivity.
'There is not much difference with the electronics, I feel like they have only gone back a couple of years and the main thing missing is the ability to fine tune the systems right to the edge of performance. But I never raced using all the electronics, I always wanted a buffer and I never took electronics set-up to the edge.
'The engine braking and traction control are still very good, too good in my opinion, and no doubt it will still allow rider to rely on electronics. The 2016 system is more about stopping future development and making it more cost effective.'
Stoner's enthusiasm for the feel of the current Ducati Desmosedici engine prompted comparisons with Honda's bechmark RC213V engine, which Stoner tested at Sepang in February 2015. And the double world champion does not fully subscribe to the theory that the 2015 Honda engine character was too aggressive.
'The Honda was also a very good engine. There were complaints it was too aggressive but the electronic controls they had to make the engine smooth were incredible,' he said.
'I never found the Honda engine to be too peaky, you could manage the power. And if people want to talk about aggressive engines I remember from 2007 to 2009 on the 800cc Ducati, it could be aggressive and peaky with a ot of top end and not much torque. It was difficult to ride at times.
'If a rider has a smooth engine but low top speed the first thing he complains about it the top speed, there are pros and cons.'
Stoner won 23 MotoGP races in four seasons at Ducati before switching to Honda and winning a second world title in 2011.