The Marlboro Ducati team of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden got their weekend in Spain off to a good start after Friday practice in Jerez, with Rossi surprising everyone by posting the 3rd fastest time across the two sessions, with the time coming in the first session as the temperatures were cooler than the afternoon session.
Speaking after the session, Rossi said, “I'm happy because this morning I did the third-fastest time, and in the afternoon, when the higher temperature hurt us a little, I was fifth. Anyway, most of the riders went a bit slower in the second session. Apart from the two Hondas at the front, we're closer to everyone else, which was our goal. It was a good day. There's still work to do; we're trying to find the right balance, and that's why we're trying two settings that are a little different from each other as we work on weight distribution. We have to improve the front feeling a little; the bike that I prefer still doesn't turn like we want it to, which means we'll have to find a compromise between the two setups. As for my shoulder, I don't have much strength, but in terms of endurance, it's a little better.”
Hayden was one of the riders that actually improved in the second session in 9th place overall, just a second behind teammate Rossi. After the session, Hayden said, “We're basically riding the same bike as in Qatar, obviously with a couple of small tweaks for this track; you need a stiffer front spring and a few other little differences. We feel closer than we were in Qatar. We made a little step forward this afternoon and it's good because only a few riders improved in the afternoon session, though the wind was a lot worse. It's the same for everybody, but the wind was really brutal today, especially around here where you're leaned over in a lot of long corners.”
He continued “We're still almost a second off of the front riders, but at least we're inside a second, which wasn't the case at Round 1. We're not over here jumping up and down with joy, but we're positive, and we'll keep improving. There's a few places I'm lacking, but we're trying to just make small gains and not make too many big changes.”