Chances are, based on today’s results, Nicky Hayden is praying for the rain to stick around as he improved from 11th in the dry session to taking the top spot right at the end of the wet session.
Naturally, the dry conditions provided the fastest laps with Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner leading the way in his home Grand Prix, the Australian lapping at 1:30.094 to keep the locals happy.
Second went to newly crowned eight-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Italian some seven-tenths slower than Stoner but joining the Australian in the 1:30s – with those two the only ones accomplishing that.
Third fastest was Alex de Angelis on the San Carlo Honda, the San Marino resident holding off JiR Team Scot’s Andrea Dovizioso who controlled the top spot in the wet second session until Hayden knocked him back a notch at the very end. LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet ended up fifth, ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.
Shinya Nakano, Jorge Lorenzo, Loris Capirossi and James Toseland rounded out the top 10 from the faster morning session.
As for the Americans, all three of them fared better in the wet session than they did in the dry. As already mentioned, Hayden went from 11th in the dry to fastest in the wet; Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards was 12th in the dry and 10th in the wet; and Kawasaki’s John Hopkins could do no better than 16th in the 18-rider field in the dry, but he improved slightly to 14th in the wet.
Hayden’s quick time in the wet was a 1:38.820, well off Stoner’s 1:30.094 from the morning session. Hayden was .755 of a second better than second fasest Dovizioso in the wet. Stoner, meanwhile, dropped from first to fourth once the conditions changed, showing that he’s likely to be a factor no matter the conditions. Ditto for Rossi, the Italian second in the dry and sixth in the wet.
Rain master Anthony West was only 12th fastest in the rain, the Aussie leading every wet session when rain hit the Indianapolis Grand Prix two races ago.
Friday Free Practice
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:30.094
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:30.764
3. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:31.043
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:31.051
5. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:31.070
6. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:31.161
7. .Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:31.221
8. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:31.235
9. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:31.248
10. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:31.277
11. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:31.284
12. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:31.368
13. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:31.532
14. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:31.719
15. Marco Melandri (Ducat) 1:31.803
16. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) 1:31.814
17. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:32.211
18. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:32.415