Nicky Hayden will start his 150th Grand Prix in the premier class from the second row of the grid after a sensational qualifying lap at Phillip Island. The American rose as high as third after clocking a 1:30.792, eight tenths quicker than any other Ducati before dropping back to sixth in the closing stages.
Hayden's best result of the season in a fully dry race is fifth and the 30 year old hopes to match or beat that achievement tomorrow.
“This was my first time on the second row this year, and for a while today, I thought I could do even better. It's good, but we're not celebrating sixth place since we expect a lot when we come to Phillip Island. The main thing for tomorrow will be to figure out how to get the tyres to last over race distance, and I'm having to use some strange lines to miss all the bumps. I lost a bit of time when one front tyre didn't come in, but other than that, I've got no excuses. I had good, clear laps, and I went about as fast as I could. Tomorrow will be my 150th Grand Prix in the premier class, and I'm proud to be here that long and still be on a factory team. With this grid position, it would be nice to get our best dry result tomorrow. It will be very tough because a lot of guys are going quick, but we'll try.”
Teammate Valentino Rossi was surprisingly slow on the second GP11.1 given his supreme record at Phillip Island. The five time Australian GP winner languished down in 13th and apologised to the team for his poor performance.
“Before we arrived here, we expected to do much better than this, considering that Phillip Island is a track where Ducati and I have always done well. Instead, I again had trouble riding today, and I was very slow. It's really a shame, and I'm very sorry. Evidently we haven't managed to solve the problems we've had since the first session here. We'll try to make some small changes in tomorrow's warm-up, but although we'll certainly try to do better than this, I'm expecting a very challenging race.”