Circuit de Catalunya
Unpredictable Weather Conditions Affect First Day At Catalunya
The first day of practice at the Catalan Grand Prix was affected by variable weather conditions that only left about a half hour of completely dry track time. Both Ducati Marlboro Team riders posted their best lap times of the day in the morning session, before it started raining.
Conditions were the opposite in the afternoon, which began on a wet surface, with the sun only drying the track toward the end. Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi were among the riders who weren’t able to take advantage of the session’s final minutes, so they finished in the eighth and ninth positions, respectively, in the combined times.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 8th, 1:44.799
“It was quite a strange day, with the weather. You just have to deal with it, but it makes it hard to test things when conditions are changing so much. This morning we had a really fine mist through most of the session. This afternoon we tried rain tyres for a bit and then went to slicks, but I wasn’t able to improve my time from this morning. In left-handers, I wasn’t able to get the left side of the tyre to come in. We tried some things, but you have to be careful to not confuse yourself, because a difference that you may think is due to setup might really just be down to conditions. Hopefully we’ll get some better weather tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th, 1:44.844
“This morning we started with the setup from Le Mans, but we realised that something different was needed for this track; we altered the setup, but the first changes didn’t work. Then it started to mist, and that’s how it was for half of the first session. The second session started with a wet track, and although we were fast in those conditions, it wasn’t possible to work productively on the setup. We’re left with some problems to solve and, although the two-second gap isn’t accurate, we’re still too far from the leaders. Fortunately, we have some ideas for tomorrow in terms of both bike settings and electronics. I spent almost all my time on the same soft tyres, which were quite worn at the finish, so it’s also possible to make up some time there. Toward the end of the afternoon session, I stopped to adjust the fork setting, and I only had time left for one more lap—not sufficient to improve my time, but enough to understand that it was a step in the right direction. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’ll see how much we’re able to improve. Anyway, although we’ll be more competitive if it rains, I would still prefer dry conditions, since that’s where we have to work at improving.”