STONER AND HAYDEN MAKE GRADUAL PROGRESS ON DAY ONE IN FRANCE Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden made discreet starts to the opening free practice for the Grand Prix de France but they were both satisfied with their ...
STONER AND HAYDEN MAKE GRADUAL PROGRESS ON DAY ONE IN FRANCE
Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden made discreet starts to the opening free practice for the Grand Prix de France but they were both satisfied with their performance by the end of session, with Stoner able to reflect on the second fastest outright lap and Hayden happy in seventh.
In ideal conditions, with blue skies and warm sunshine contributing to track temperatures of 44C -- a pleasurable rarity for this circuit - the Australian took a few laps to get up to speed as his team made adjustments to a new set of handlebars, before closing to within less than three tenths of the circuit record as he secured top spot overnight. The American, meanwhile, has traditionally struggled to get up to speed at a circuit he rates amongst his least favourite but he was able to gradually climb the order today with a host of tweaks to the base set-up that served him so well at the opening two races in Qatar and Spain.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 2nd (1'34.508)
"To be honest we had a fairly good session. It didn't start off so well because we're trying some new handlebars - we've made them a lot stronger so that if we ever have a small 'off' in a race we've got a better chance of picking the bike up and continuing. This has been a problem for us a couple of times in the past and even though the track conditions were perfect today you never know what can happen with the weather at Le Mans! We didn't have the position quite right at the start so we had to spend a little time fixing that but from there on we made gradual progress. The initial feeling with the bike wasn't great but it felt better once we stiffened things up both front and rear. Always when you go stiffer you lose a little grip so it was a case of playing around with the rear suspension and tyre pressures to find some traction. By the end I felt comfortable and we're satisfied to be in the hunt because we feel this is a circuit that maybe suits some of our rivals more than us."
NICKY HAYDEN -- (Ducati Marlboro Team) 7th (1'35.223)
"For some reason whenever I come to Le Mans nothing comes to me real easy and that was certainly the case for a bit today. For the last run the team did a great job, changing a few things with the electronics to get more traction and less pumping and also a change to the rear shock that improved the feeling quite a lot. That gave me a half second over the last couple of laps and the feeling was a lot better. We're still a long way from the front group but I definitely feel better after that last run and hopefully we found a direction. I always expect a hard weekend here and this one won't be any different but I'm feeling positive after today."