Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner will start from the front row of the grid in tomorrow’s Catalunya Grand Prix, with Nicky Hayden starting in thirteenth place despite a late crash that denied him a potential second-row start. The American has made his biggest breakthrough of the season so far on the Desmosedici GP9 in Barcelona, lapping sixth fastest in yesterday’s opening free practice and tenth fastest this morning following an overhaul of his set-up and electronics package.
Stoner also found several positives this afternoon, although he didn’t quite find the ideal set-up within the hour-long session. Nevertheless the Australian is confident his crew can use the data to find an even more competitive combination for tomorrow’s race and he is ideally placed to challenge Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, having qualified just behind the Yamaha pair in third place.
Casey Stoner Speaks…
(Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd (1’42.426)
"After yesterday we were quite confident that we knew how to close the gap on the guys in front of us and that is what we expected to do this morning but it proved to be a problematic session and everything we did made the set-up worse. The guys worked really hard over lunchtime and during the session this afternoon to change both bikes completely and thankfully we made a big step forward. There is still a bit of a gap to the two riders ahead of us and we know we have work to do, so warm-up will be really important in the morning. Nobody really knows what anybody is capable of in conditions like this because once the tyres start spinning it is going to be difficult for any of us to match the times we’ve been doing today. It is going to be a very interesting race and I think everybody is going to be sliding around a lot but the things we tried with the electronics this afternoon should help us in the later stages of the race. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow but the idea is to dig in and work hard from the warm-up and hopefully we’ll still be fighting at the end."
Nicky Hayden Speaks…
(Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th (1’43.414)
"Today we weren’t quite able to pick up where we left off yesterday but I went half a second quicker this morning – unfortunately it wasn’t enough to close the gap on the guys in front because they improved too. I shaved another couple of tenths off again this afternoon but on my last run I crashed in turn two and that was pretty much that. The position isn’t great but on the other hand with just a couple more tenths I’d have been a lot further up. I know I’m talking a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ here and at the end of the day the position is what counts and we’re not high enough up. It’s just a shame that on the lap when I’m sure I would have found those extra couple of tenths the rear stepped out in turn one and when I flicked it over into turn two it put me down pretty good. I smacked my left wrist quite hard but I don’t think it’s a big issue and other than that I seem to be okay so we’re looking forward to trying for more tomorrow. "
Daniel Pedrosa (Honda – 2008), 1’42.358 – 166.251 Km/h
Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2008), 1’41.186 – 168.177 Km/h
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’41.974 – 166.877 km/h