The Ducati Team started its setup work on the GP11.1 at the Motegi circuit, lapping at a decent pace from the first free-practice session. After posting the morning’s third-best time, Nicky Hayden finished the day sixth, less than six tenths from the leader, Dani Pedrosa. Valentino Rossi, who is still working on settings with the new chassis part introduced at Aragon, steadily improved his bike’s setup and his times, finishing eight.
Both riders are fairly satisfied with the first day, though they’re aware that they must continue to improve tomorrow in order to further reduce the gap to the front.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th (1:47.381)
“I had fun riding the bike today, and that’s important. This morning was really encouraging, because I could ride comfortably, and we really haven’t made many changes throughout the day. I’ve steadily got a little bit faster, but the others made a bigger jump in the afternoon. I’ve certainly had worse Fridays this year, but we’ve got a long way to go if we want to be near the front on Sunday afternoon. We’ve got a couple of small ideas to try to improve the bike under braking. As hard as Ducati has worked to try to help us, it would be really nice to give them a result they deserve.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 8th (1:47.975)
“We made progress with the bike throughout the day, and as a result we improved our lap times, dropping below 1:48. The pace is still far from the top, but not bad for now. There are a number of things to resolve, but we’re definitely not in the situation we were at Aragon, where we always had big problems with rear grip. That’s not the case here. We worked on weight distribution, loading the front a little more, and it’s better. Tomorrow we must try to drop into the low 1:47 range. That’s our goal. Nicky is already there, although he chose to ride mainly with the soft tyre. The track is good. The asphalt has good grip, and they did a good job.”