Nicky Hayden continued to make gradual improvements to both machine set-up and overall classification today as he posted the eighth fastest time in qualifying practice for tomorrow’s Czech Republic Grand Prix. The American held on to a third row spot – his second best grid position of the season – despite an intense finale to the session, which saw his stand-in team-mate Mika Kallio secure tenth place for his Ducati Marlboro Team debut despite a late crash while he was pushing for a even faster lap.
NICKY HAYDEN (Ducati Marlboro Team) (8th; 1’57.803)
“I was hoping to go faster than that but qualifying has been a weak point for us this year and I always seem to struggle to make a significant improvement when everybody else is pushing for times right at the end. Considering that I’m pleased that I was able to keep improving right to the end and hang on to what is a decent position for us compared to a lot of our qualifying results so far this season. The team have done a good job here. We’ve made some big changes to the geometry here and we’re improving. It isn’t quite showing in the lap time yet but we keep getting faster and if we can take another step forward tomorrow we can have a good race. The top three are going so quick this weekend it’s unbelievable but nonetheless we’ve done a good job so far and we’re looking to make more improvements in the warm-up and in the race.”
MIKA KALLIO (Ducati Marlboro Team) (10th; 1’57.994)
“Up until the crash things were going really well and without it I think we could have qualified at least in seventh place, which we were only two tenths off. I take the blame for the crash but I didn’t really do anything different and the front washed away. We’ve been experimenting with different suspension angles on the two bikes and like yesterday they both have their strengths and weaknesses that we need to look at tonight and make some decisions about. We improved the situation with the rear grip on the left side but it seems we are still struggling to get heat into the tyre so this also needs more work in the warm-up. Anyway, my grid position is not what we hoped for but it’s not bad and I equalled my best lap today on a rear tyre with twenty laps on it, so the signs are promising for the race tomorrow. I’m excited and really looking forward to the race.”