The Ducati Team got the Japanese Grand Prix weekend off to a good start, with Valentino Rossi fifth at the end of the first two free-practice sessions. Tomorrow the Italian will work on the Desmosedici’s settings in an effort to also improve his pace with a race setup. Nicky Hayden, whose reduced strength in his right hand is hindering him on the Japanese circuit’s hard-braking zones, finished the day in tenth place.
Valentino Rossi – 5th (1:46.687)
“Today went pretty well, especially in the afternoon because we made a setup change that helped us to improve grip on acceleration. When I open the gas I’m able to exit the turns better, without spinning too much, and that’s why I went pretty fast. I’m especially happy because the gap isn’t too big. Tomorrow, though, we’ll have to improve our pace as well, because for now I’m able to ride well for some laps, and then the tyre starts to slide a bit too much. The rear-tyre choice will be very important because the performance of the soft and the hard are very similar. The soft works a little better but we have to understand if it can last the race distance. Tomorrow we’ll try some more changes and then we’ll also consider the temperature for Sunday when making a decision.”
Nicky Hayden – 10th (1:47.551)
“It was good to have a full day of dry weather on a Friday, but it was a difficult day. This morning we weren’t so far off, but I didn’t improve in the afternoon. I’m not getting the feedback from the bike that I’d like under braking. Also, my hand is giving me some pain and I don’t have a lot of strength, especially into the right-handers. There’s lots of hard braking on this track, so I’m losing time mainly on the corner entry, and it’s hard to recover on the exits. We need to have a re-think tonight and try to do a good step tomorrow.”