Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden will ride for potentially the final time at Donington Park tomorrow, with the British Grand Prix set to move to Silverstone next year.
The Australian and the American start from fourth and fifteenth place respectively
on the grid after qualifying practice was held in dry and warm conditions this afternoon.
Stoner's chance of a front row start were spoiled with a front-end crash halfway through the session, whilst Hayden struggled to find grip in the dry conditions despite an impressive showing in the wet during yesterday's opening free practice. Unsurprisingly, neither rider would be disappointed to see the local weather forecast of rain for tomorrow afternoon bear out.
"I'm a bit frustrated because I think we could have been on the front row today but considering everything, fourth place isn't that bad”, Stoner said. “It was actually a really difficult day for us, we had a few problems this morning, we have struggled to find the good feeling with the bike that we've had in the last few races, but we modified the set-up for the afternoon and things felt better, allowing me to go fast from the start. We were trying a different configuration on each bike but unfortunately about halfway through the session, when we were trying something with the front, I crashed and damaged my number 1 machine and that obviously made things worse. We didn't have enough time left to transfer that setting onto the second bike so we managed to improve a little on the soft tyre but it still wasn't enough. We'll have to see what happens tomorrow and to try to get as many points as possible. I'd almost prefer it to rain because it would be better for my physical condition”.
“It hasn't been a very productive day for us at all”, commented Hayden. “We've struggled a lot to get feel into the bike, especially on the left side it has been a problem getting enough heat into the tyres to give me good feedback. My qualifying lap was only an improvement of about a second on my first run this morning, which was our first time on the track in the dry, and obviously that's not good enough. I did a pretty poor job today at the end of qualifying and probably stayed out too long when I had another soft tyre I could have come in and changed to, but time was running out. I also had a little clutch problem there at the end, which didn't help but the bottom line is we haven't been fast enough all day. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for rain tomorrow. I'll be sorry for the fans if it does but selfishly we might need it!”