The MotoGP World Championship returned to Indianapolis today and was again struck by the wet weather curse that saw last year’s race cancelled with eight laps remaining. Thankfully there was no sign of the high winds from twelve months ago and the first free practice session went ahead without delay, with the impressive Nicky Hayden and stand-in team-mate Mika Kallio lapping second and eleventh fastest respectively in the soaking conditions.
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati MotoGP Team) (2nd; 1’51.662)
“It feels good to be near the top again! The bike felt pretty good from the beginning and after trying something new on the other bike, which didn’t work, we went back to the standard setting and went from there. The track was really tricky because there were sections with a lot of standing water and others where the grip was amazing – you had to be really on your toes. Midway through the session a funny line formed – I’m not sure if some kind of chemical came up through the asphalt from when they cleaned it but it was pretty slick. Over the last couple of laps I just went for it because I knew I had a chance to be on top today and this is the highest I’ve been in any session this year. Truthfully though I need dry track time because I tend to start the weekend slowly and build up, so to lose a session to the weather is not an advantage to me. We need to start out strong in the morning and go from there. P1 would have been sweet but P2 at just a tenth of a second off gives us reason to smile. I’m delighted to be racing here at Indy so let’s hope tomorrow brings more joy!”
MIKA KALLIO (Ducati MotoGP Team) (11th; 1’53.967)
“I struggled for grip and feeling at the start of the session and that made it hard for me to get confident. The front spring was a little too hard and the suspension was sat up a bit too high so we went for some softer springs and that improved things. We also made a few small changes to the rear and the last run was much better – I think with a few more laps we could have made some big progress. I’m not happy because a 2.4 second gap to the leader is big but I think we can be much closer if I can find a little more feeling with the bike. They say the weather could be a lot different tomorrow, which would change everything again, so we’ll wait and see what happens.”