Ducati Marlboro PR:
Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner came within touching distance of a home pole position for the factory at the Mugello circuit this afternoon, missing out by just 0.021 seconds as he qualified in second place for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix. The Australian provided an early treat for the Ducatisti who are packed into the stand at the Correntaio corner here by mounting a late charge for top spot on his final lap, only to fall a fraction short of the benchmark set by Jorge Lorenzo.
Ever the perfectionist, however, Stoner was not entirely satisfied with the day’s events after his electrifying pace in this morning’s final free practice session was halted by a crash, which also set back his work in the afternoon.
Nicky Hayden made vast improvements from the morning to the afternoon session, knocking well over a second off his best lap time. However, with his rivals also stepping up the pace the American lost a position on his free practice classification and qualified in 16th position for tomorrow’s 23-lap race.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 2nd (1’49.008)
“We had a great free practice session this morning despite the crash and I was very comfortable with the bike, so I was optimistic about this afternoon. Unfortunately as we picked up the pace in the afternoon we found some problems with the front and I couldn’t make the bike turn as I wanted it to. You spend a lot of time on the edge of the tyre through the long corners at this circuit and that is where we’re losing time. We’ll see if we can change a couple of things and improve the bike before the warm-up tomorrow. Second place on the grid is obviously a great position but I know we could have done a lot better so I can’t help but feel frustrated. It also makes me look forward to tomorrow even more because I can’t wait to get back out on track!”
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) 16th (1’50.924)
“I know we’re in the same position on the time sheets, worse in fact, but actually the feeling with the bike got better as the session went on this afternoon and the lap time improved quite a lot from the morning. My pace through T1 is acceptable but I’m the slowest guy out there through T3 so that’s what we’ll be focusing on tonight I think. We still have a big gap to make up and we need to make a major step if want to be competitive but anything can happen at this track. We’ve got many Engineers here from Bologna so hopefully they can help me out a bit.”