Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi blamed a lack of grip from the Sepang circuit for their poor performance in Friday practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The factory Ducati riders were 11th and 13th respectively and both were over two seconds slower than Dani Pedrosa's pacesetting Honda.
Hayden was pleased with the progress made from the morning session but accepts the team still have a lot of work to do to be ready for qualifying.
“Conditions are very different from what we just had at Phillip Island. It's pretty warm and sticky, though it can definitely be even hotter here. This is a completely different bike than we had here at the test, so it takes a little extra time to get a rhythm, and we only used two different sets of tyres the whole day. We've fixed some of the steering issues, which is good, but at the same time we've lost rear grip, which we really miss here on both corner entry and corner exits. We'll try to sort that out tomorrow. We made a pretty good step from this morning, but we definitely need to try to do another step about like that tomorrow morning and go from there.”
Teammate Rossi was particularly unsettled and felt the low grip level prevented them from making any genuine comparisons with the pre-season test at Sepang, one of the team's objectives heading into the weekend.
“The track conditions are very different, worse actually, than when we tested here during the winter, because the asphalt was very slippery today. It was really bad this morning, just a bit better in the afternoon. That makes it difficult to make a comparison between then and today, but we certainly weren't as fast as we'd like to be. We changed something with the rear suspension at the end of the session that helped to improve the feeling with the bike, but we haven't made enough progress in terms of lap times. Tomorrow we'll see if we're able to do better with a bit more grip. It wasn't bad under braking today, but I'm not able to be fast in the corners, especially the fast ones. I really hope to be able to use the hard tyres because that would be the right choice for the race.”