Despite waking up to bright sunshine and warm summer temperatures in Germany this morning, a lunchtime thunderstorm left the Sachsenring circuit soaking wet for the opening free practice session of the German Grand Prix. Ducati Marlboro riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden were unfazed by the inclement conditions, Hayden in particular following up his impressive progress at Laguna Seca by setting the pace in the wet during the early stages.
The track dried quickly as the hour-long session progressed and whilst Hayden was able to convert his good form on rain tyres to some impressive lap times on slicks, the American slipped slightly down the order to eighth place when the pace was increased in the final few minutes. The man who upped the ante the most was Hayden’s own team-mate Stoner, who incredibly dipped well inside circuit record pace despite wet patches still being present on the track to take top spot.
Casey Stoner Speaks… (1st; 1’22.779)
"It would have been better to have a full wet session because even from the first two laps the track was starting to dry and you don’t get such good feedback. The bike seems to be working well, we had to change a few small things – like the seat, to make it a bit more comfortable – but generally over the last three races it has been great and I’m quite happy with it here. We’re improving the GP9 step by step and I think you can see that by Nicky’s recent results, which I’m really pleased about. Physically I feel the same as I did at this stage in the last few races so if it rains again tomorrow it would probably be beneficial to me because I’m sure it would leave me in better shape for the race and give us a much better chance of challenging for the win."
Nicky Hayden Speaks… (8th; 1’23.367)
"It is nice to be able to come to a track and not have to be trying something radical with the set-up on the first day and today we started out with pretty much the settings from Laguna, making a few changes as the session went on. Having said that we are trying a new handlebar here, which isn’t normally the kind of thing you do at this stage of the season, but we have changed a lot on the back of the bike so we just needed to compensate a little at the front. Up to now we’ve been using data from Casey or previous riders to find a base set-up on a Friday but now hopefully we can work from my own data on a consistent basis. My final position today isn’t too great but early in the session we were going really well, especially in the wet. We were on top for a long time and in this paddock if you’re P1 in the wet, dry or intermediate you have to be riding well and be comfortable with the bike. I think I was third up until the last lap, and it is a thing we need to improve – when I try to really dig in we don’t seem able to go faster and it’s an area we still need to address in order to improve qualifying in particular. Anyway, here we’ve started very well so we’ll see where we go from here."
Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2007), 1’23.082 – 159.066km/h
Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2008), 1’21.067 – 163.020 Km/h
Circuit Length: 3.671km
MotoGP Race 2009:
30 laps (110.130km)