Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden are both steeling themselves for a tough battle around the legendary TT circuit at Assen tomorrow after qualifying on 4th and 13th on the grid for the seventh round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Stoner was in impressive form on race tyres, lapping in the low 1’37 mark that looks like being a pace capable of challenging for victory in tomorrow’s race, although when he switched to softer tyres for an assault on the grid positions he was held up by a host of slower riders on track. Hayden was seventh fastest in this morning’s final free practice and despite making a couple of minor wrong turns with his set-up in the afternoon, the American was only 0.010 seconds from a fourth row star.
4th – Casey Stoner Speaks… (1’36.633)
"Pretty much all weekend we’ve been very fast on race tyres and even though we’re normally good for a single qualifying lap on a soft tyre we’ve had a few issues here. With my second soft tyre I was up out of the seat a couple of times but we changed it and the next one was a lot better. Unfortunately a couple of riders got in my way, waiting for a two in a dangerous and fast part of the track, which obviously cost me time but could have cost me a whole lot more if I had crashed. It is a frustrating situation which seems to be happening more and more in MotoGP and it is about time something was done to stop it. Thankfully I’m starting from fourth on the grid, which I am fine with because I can still challenge at the front from there and with the times we set today there is no reason not to be confident."
13th – Nicky Hayden Speaks… (1’37.759)
"Unfortunately qualifying is not our strong point at the moment but we made some improvements with the bike in free practice this morning. We changed the transmission, which helped a bit, and made a few more tweaks that made the general feeling of the bike a bit better but for the afternoon we tried some stuff that didn’t work so well. We had to go back to what we had this morning and I was only able to go a little bit faster, which is why the qualifying position isn’t great. The cooler track today made it hard to get heat into the left-hand side of the tyre. You don’t get good balance with the single compound tyres around here, for me at least, the right side is really good but it’s hard to get heat into the left. We’ll see what the weather brings, obviously we could do with it being nice and hot, line up and see what we got!"
Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2008), 1’36.738 – 169.509 Km/h
Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2008), 1’35.520 – 171.670 Km/h