Saturday, May 1

STONER & HAYDEN UPBEAT

MARLBORO Ducati men Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden were satisfied after the opening practice session at Jerez, praising the performance of their Desmosedici GP10 machines.

Stoner is naturally keen to get some points on the board after his crash from the lead in Qatar, and as he seeks a first win at Jerez, the Australian was brimming with positivity after his time of 1m 39.731s in FP1 topped the timesheet.

“I’m feeling a lot more confident than I ever have at this circuit. Immediately from the first lap on this bike I knew things were different to past years, and the bike felt so much more confident than it ever has,” he said. “I have a great feeling, the rear is a lot calmer, it’s not pumping all over the track, and things feel very good. Everybody else is going to be ready for a good fight this weekend and I think it’s going to be the first chance I’m going to have to fight for maybe a victory here.”

Not even a slide out with two minutes of the session remaining brought Stoner’s mood down, and he even took the positives from the minor fall.

“I’m not really too sure (what happened),” said Stoner when asked about the fall at Turn 9. “The lap before I went into that corner a little bit too fast, so I thought on the next lap I’d ease it off a little bit, and a similar thing happened to what did in Qatar. We just didn’t have enough weight on the front, so I think we might be getting a little bit of a wrong indication from the bike of what we need to do with it. I think this is actually a good thing to happen to us because now we’ve had the same thing happen twice and this is going to give us a lot better indication of how to improve the problem for tomorrow, and the rest of the season. So far we’re very happy with the situation we’re in.”

Meantime Hayden was looking to build on what was for him a superb display in Qatar where he took fourth place in the race. The third quickest lap in the opening practice at Jerez left the American in similarly high spirits at just 0.417 seconds off his team-mate.

“The session went well and I’m really happy right now because this is a big one for us,” he commented. “I was fast in Malaysia and Qatar (tests) but that was after a lot of testing at those tracks, experimenting with many different settings, but we’ve come here and been fast out of the gate, which was one of my goals for this season – to be on the pace on Fridays. We didn’t set the world on fire or break any track records so we’re not getting carried away but the bike is close and if we can get it a little better in the fast corners we should have a good package.”
Hayden added: “The team made one little change today that helped a lot and on my last exit I was able to stay in the 1’40s from the first lap to the last. It’s a good start and if we keep working in this way we can have a good weekend.”