"A reasonable start to the weekend"
Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden set the third fastest time today as practice for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix got under way at Phillip Island near Melbourne.
The 25-year-old world championship leader continued to make progress
with the latest chassis on his evolution RC211V, improving from ninth in the morning session to third overall.
In the afternoon Hayden was one of several riders to make a late test run on a qualifying Michelin, in preparation for tomorrow's one-hour qualifying session where the American hot-shot will be looking for a repeat of last year's pole position.
Still affected by injuries sustained in a practice crash in Malaysia a week ago, Dani Pedrosa took his time working up to speed at the picturesque 4.448km (2.764 miles) Australian track. With his injured right knee healing but far from comfortable, the 20- year-old reigning 250cc World Champion worked on achieving a comfortable riding technique, preferring to ease into the pace rather than go for the fastest possible lap- times today.
As well as holding first and second places in the riders' world championship, the Repsol Honda Team, with 406 points, enjoys a clear lead in the MotoGP Team World Championship, 122 points ahead of its nearest rival. With points from both riders counting, a total of 14 points from the Repsol Honda stars this weekend would clinch the title with three rounds remaining.
Nicky Hayden :
It's been a reasonable start to the weekend compared to the last few races which is good. We made a bit of an improvement this afternoon and tried a few settings that worked better on the bike. The biggest thing right now is to try to find some more traction and get the bike to transfer weight without hurting the front too much. We've definitely got some ideas about how to improve it and right now Turn 10 is my worst point getting out of that slow corner and into the next left.
The bike feels ok in a few spots, though we've definitely got some work to do I need to be able to get into the 1m 30s consistently tomorrow. So all the boys in my team will put their heads together and come up with something to keep it going in the right direction tomorrow.
Dani Pedrosa :
« Today I was really just checking my physical condition and also the conditions of the track because the temperatures here are very different to the last race in Sepang. From being away from racing for four days I felt pretty good but now to be back on the bike is pretty difficult it feels really sore. I had some painkillers this afternoon to ease it a little but no injections. It's going to be important to step up my current pace, and we'll see if we can do it tomorrow. I ran off the track this afternoon because I touched the brake on the downhill section and lost the front it went completely straight on, and I released the brake but it was too late to stay on track. I will just keep taking things step by step this weekend hopefully they will be big steps!
Makoto Tanaka :
Today's first practice was quite high-paced compared to last year, and Nicky had a good start. We need more work to improve the acceleration from the last corner, but he finished the first day with a good feeling from the bike. Dani is still feeling the affects of his Sepang fall and is going to work on his bike set-up carefully. He is obviously very keen to avoid any more falls right now so it was normal steady progress today. He is going to resume the set-up of the bike gradually tomorrow. The rivals looks quite strong here so we have to continue to concentrate totally and work hard.
Repsol Honda Team