Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden will start alongside each other from the second row of the grid in tomorrow's Grand Prix de France, having qualified fourth and fifth fastest this afternoon. It is the first time Ducati...
Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden will start alongside each other from the second row of the grid in tomorrow's Grand Prix de France, having qualified fourth and fifth fastest this afternoon. It is the first time Ducati have had both riders qualify inside the top five at the Le Mans circuit -- the latest evidence of the improved versatility of the Desmosedici GP10.
Both the Australian and the American launched strong challenges for pole position in an exciting finale to the session, which eventually saw Valentino Rossi claim top spot on the final lap ahead of his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa completing the front row. Stoner's qualifying effort was only marginally quicker than his race pace, which bodes well for tomorrow, whilst in contrast Hayden admitted he still has work to do after making a notable improvement on the softer rubber.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 4th (1'33.824) "We have a lot of work to do to try and get more performance out of the softer tyre because our rivals seem to be able to make bigger improvements on it than us. We didn't manage to lap much faster than the times we were doing on the harder race tyre so that is a little disappointing because it would have been nice to start from the front row here but at the same time we know we have a good pace over race distance. In general the bike is going really well, our race pace is more competitive than it was at this stage of the weekend in Jerez so I'm confident we can do a good job tomorrow."
NICKY HAYDEN -- (Ducati Marlboro Team) 5th (1'33.845) "The second row for us is a positive result because to be honest my race pace hasn't been great and now we've given ourselves a chance because the start is so important here. We made a big step with the bike in the session this morning but weren't really able to follow it up with another one this afternoon so we have work to do tonight because at the moment it's looking like a really tough race for us. At least the weather is fantastic -- I don't think I've ever seen so many fans here and they deserve it because they've had to put up with a lot of rain over the years! Tomorrow they might be leaving with sunburn but they won't be complaining."