The first day of activity for the British Grand Prix, eighth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP), had standings leader Casey Stoner at the top of the overall time sheet in a journey held under rainy conditions on Friday.
Stoner set a lap time of 1.43:749 on onboard his Marlboro Ducati in the first of the two free practice sessions to lead over both Repsol Honda riders: Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa.
Hayden clocked 1.43:781 for his best shot, while Pedrosa set 1.43:870, although in difference to his teammate and Stoner, the Spaniard did his best ride in the second session, taking the top of the practice two leaderboard.
Rain fell on and off throughout the day, and the Donington Park circuit did not dry out as expected, at least for Stoner. "I think everyone is running pretty much the softest wets. I used the same tyres for the whole day today and they still looked pretty new. It's ridiculous really, I don't think any other British track is this bad in the wet, and to have a world championship race here with bikes doing these speeds is just a little bit wrong. Since they resurfaced the track it's got worse than what it was before in the wet, it's become dangerous", the Australian commented.
About Saturday`s activity, the winner of four races this year said: "we're going to see if we can make the tyres work a bit harder and hopefully pick up a few tenths. We'd already made a few improvements for the wet at Mugello - we changed something in the geometry to help me get more weight transfer on the rear, that's why we were pretty fast and confident in the wet there. It doesn't really matter if it's wet or dry on Sunday, we've all got to race in the same conditions. But the way this circuit is at the moment, I think a dry race would be a better option for everyone".
The Repsol Honda duo made full use of today's conditions to narrow down the options for tyre selection and bike set-up. As wet tyres are not subject to the new rules introduced for the 2007 season limiting the number of slicks available, the job of choosing the right treaded rubber for the infinitely variable track conditions is, at least, as complex as in the dry.
"It was a pretty wet, cold, slippery, nasty day out there, but that's probably as much fun as I've had on the bike since Valencia last year. So I'm not going to complain about cold fingers! The conditions were varying a bit and there were times when the rain was heavier than others, but overall my bike felt pretty good in the wet and I had a good feeling", Hayden said.
The other voice of the team, Pedrosa, also had something to said about his first day in Donington Park. "I've been improving in the wet this year and it's something I've been working on and thinking about, so it's nice to finish on top of the timesheets in a wet session for the first time - I'm happy about that. Today it was raining all day so we had two hours of practice to look for the right set-up and tyres for these conditions. The feeling from the bike is good and today has been useful", the Spaniard explained.
Fourth fastest overall today was Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet who was eighth in the afternoon session. The Frenchman was unable to improve on his commendable morning performance, as his knee injury continues to heal while he still rides with some pain. De Puniet had an amazing ride in Catalunya with the painful injury as he scored a podium finish.
An excellent showing from Kawasaki's new recruit Anthony West saw him end the day seventh quickest, a remarkable achievement so early in his 800cc career
It was a day full of crashes, especially during the first practice session where many riders lost control of their bikes, with no major consequences.