Ducati Marlboro Team riders Mika Kallio and Nicky Hayden were satisfied with their day’s work following the opening free practice session for the San Marino Grand Prix today, having both continued their positive recent progress with the set-up of the Desmosedici GP9 machines. Kallio recovered his recent lost confidence in the front end of his bike to lap seventh fastest whilst Hayden, who signed a one-year extension to his deal with the team yesterday, was also inside the top ten despite being held up by a slower rider on his quickest lap.
MIKA KALLIO (Ducati Marlboro Team) (7th; 1’36.419)
“There have been a couple of occasions this season when we have been in this position on the opening day and obviously I’m happy to be here again today. I said at Brno and Indy that I wasn’t feeling confident for some reason but here I felt a lot better from the first run. We set the bike up a little bit differently from the start and it was a step forward, which allowed me to push harder. We’re back to the level we were at before and now we need to build on it. My feeling with the front is still not as good as I would like, especially in the first section, where I was second slowest. I’m losing more than half a second in that sector alone so if we can improve the bike through those slow corners we can make up a lot of ground. We didn’t manage to fix it today so that is our target for tomorrow.”
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) (10th; 1’36.608)
“It wasn’t a bad first day actually. I mean, the position doesn’t look good but the reality is that we’re in the thick of the second group. The beginning was quite a struggle but we had a different set-up on the other bike, which immediately felt better in terms of turning and grip. We made progress from there basically but on my last lap, my fast one, I had to make a pass in T3 that cost me a couple of tenths. If it wasn’t for that, overall I think I would have been much higher up the order. The bike is working well in some sections of the track; in T2 I’m fourth and in T4 I’m third but T1 isn’t very good and T3 ain’t good at all – I’m third last and that won’t get it. So we certainly need to understand what’s going on over there in the fast rights and also improve our top speed a bit but we got a good direction and my feeling for both the softer and harder tyres is quite good. We’ll see if we can take another step tomorrow but this is not a bad start.”