Ducati riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi had contrasting fortunes on the opening day of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, with the American having the upper hand.
Hayden was on top form right from the start of the day and was fourth quickest behind Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli and Jorge Lorenzo in FP1, before providing the greatest challenge to the dominant Hondas in the wet conditions of FP2.
The 29-year-old was delighted with the start he and the team had made to the weekend and is hopeful of translating today's form into a strong grid position tomorrow.
“This was our best Friday of the season so far. The conditions were difficult, especially this afternoon, with different surfaces and different amounts of water, but the bike worked quite well. We know it's great in the wet, but we were also competitive in the dry this morning. We had to be careful not to destroy the rain tyres this afternoon, because we only have four sets for the whole weekend. You really need to save two for qualifying and one for the race, so this might be the only set we have for practice.”
“I hope today sets us up for a good weekend. The team expects better than what we've been doing, and so do I. There's a long way to go until Sunday, but we're off to a good start. I'm very happy with the bike and the team today.”
Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi struggled to get to grips with the Northamptonshire circuit on his first competitive appearance there, having missed last year's race due to injury.
'The Doctor' admitted that the weather had made it difficult to find a good balance with the GP11 machine and was concerned with the problems bearing in mind the bike's previous good form in the wet.
“Today was a bit difficult. The weather was bad for the most part, and that didn't help us. We knew we were beginning with a handicap, because compared to the others I lack the experience of last year. We're a little bit behind. We're currently trying to find a good balance for the bike, but considering that we still take time on the tracks that we know well, of course it's even more challenging in these conditions. We even had trouble in the wet, where normally we're immediately quite strong, so there's obviously still much work to be done.”
Rossi was still looking forward to the rest of the weekend and saw the pace of his teammate as reason for encouragement going into qualifying.
“We know that the bike can go well because today Nicky was fast in both conditions, and that's positive. I like Silverstone a lot. It's a great trackâ€”a little old-school, beautiful and fast. We hope we can have more fun riding here tomorrow.”