Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden both enjoyed a positive first practice session at the Catalunya Grand Prix, with the American joining the Australian at the top end of the time sheets on an encouraging opening day: Stoner lapped third fastest, Hayden clocked the sixth fastest time.
A small crash towards the end of the session did little to dent the confidence of Stoner, who reported improved corner speed and turning from his machine at a circuit where he celebrated victory on his way to becoming MotoGP World Champion in 2007. Hayden, the title-winner in 2006, has shown signs of a major breakthrough were evident from as early as the fourth lap, when he dipped into the 1’45s before improving to a low 1’44.
Casey Stoner Speaks…
(Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd (1’43.636)
"We didn’t have such a good feeling in the beginning. We’re trying a few different things on one of the bikes and it’s working really well apart from in two areas. One is when I’m at full lean on the way into the corner, it feels a bit vague and wants to push me a metre or so wide. When I’m on the gas again it turns really well. The other point is that we’re not getting much traction, but we’re getting loads of corner speed and it’s turning really well. It’s a case of working to find a balance and unfortunately we lost a bit of time at the end because I tipped off it in the hairpin at the end of the back straight. Basically I’d had a couple of moments before that so I was being a little careful – probably too carteful because I didn’t push the front hard enough in that corner and it went a little light and tucked. Anyway, we’ve ended up with some reasonably competitive lap times and I’m confident we can go much faster tomorrow. I’m happy because we know what we’re capable of and it’s just a matter of getting it done now."
Nicky Hayden Speaks….
(Ducati Marlboro Team) 6th (1’44.152)
"I know it’s only sixth position but still I’m pretty happy because I was running up front throughout the session and having fun, which is what racing is supposed to be about! Basically "Vitto" (Guareschi) stayed on in Mugello and tested a lot and we have changed almost everything on the bike other than the handgrips! We’ve altered the electronics and the geometry a lot to help me get the bike turning and we’ve taken a big step. I don’t want to get too excited because it’s only Friday and we’ve got to keep working hard but I want to say that I am very grateful to the team and to "Vitto", Filippo (Preziosi) and "Pippi" (Cristhian Pupulin) and the Test Team in particular. Nobody here has given up on me even after a few bad races and I have always made it clear I won’t give up on them. We have had to stay mentally strong and keep positive, even though that hasn’t been easy. Hopefully we’re on to something here and all the hard work will start paying off."
Daniel Pedrosa (Honda – 2008), 1’42.358 – 166.251 Km/h
Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2008), 1’41.186 – 168.177 Km/h