The Australian was the fastest rider in both sessionS, his margin to second place nearly identical in the morning and afternoon. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis was second fastest in the morning, but it was the resurgent Nicky Hayden who put the Repsol Honda into the second slot later in the day.
For the first time in a race situation, Hayden was riding with the pneumatic valve engine, which test rider Tady Okada raced at Catalunya two weeks ago. Hayden also had a new chassis, which was similar to the one that teammate Dani Pedrosa had been using recently. Hayden didn’t know how long he’d had it.
When Hayden asked to ride the new machine, he was told there was no going back. And he was certain he’d made the right choice at the end of the day.
“They had the other bike setting there in the corner and they were talking about sending it back to Japan on Monday,” Hayden said, “And I told them, hey, go ahead and box it up. I ain’t going to ride it no more. And so yeah, they said once I choose there won’t be no going back. If I did want to use it this week and it ran today, that’s it.”
Just behind Hayden came the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards, who was third in the morning session.
Then came de Angelis, narrowly slower than Rossi, and Hayden’s teammate Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa survived a spill late in the session to secure the sixth fastest time.
“I think maybe we were using a too-hard rear tire when I crashed,” he said.
Friday Combined Practice:
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:28.253
2. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:28.829
3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:28.909
4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:28.969
5. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:28.992
6. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:29.207
7. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:20.207
8. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:29.341
9. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:29.410
10. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:29.433
11. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) 1:29.441
12. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:29.666
13. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:29.718
14. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:39.856
15. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:30.286
16. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:30.290
17. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 1:30.766
18. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:30.931