Hayden, who will move to Ducati Marlboro starting on Monday, lowered his leading morning practice time of 1:47.694 to 1:45.777 in the afternoon. The time edged out teammate Dani Pedrosa by less than a tenth of a second.
Fiat Yamaha teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi followed the Repsol Hondas at an interval of about a tenth of a second each. Lorenzo, like Hayden on Michelins, clocked in at 1:45.959. Rossi, a Bridgestone runner like Pedrosa, finished the day with a 1:46.070, more than 5.7 secs. faster than he’d gone in the morning session, which included a crash in the final corner before he set the set his fast time on his second bike.
Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner also crashed, but his spill came in the morning. He finished .190 secs. behind Rossi.
JiR Team Scot MotoGP’s Andrea Dovizioso was a quarter second slower than Stoner with a little more than that on seventh fastest Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda). The Frenchman was just under a second slower than Hayden.
The rest of the top ten were Alice Team’s Sylvain Guintoli (Duc), Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards, and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Shinya Nakano.
Kawasaki’s John Hopkins recorded the 14th fastest time.
Hayden’s cousin, Hayden Gillim, was the fastest qualifier in the combined field of Red Bull AMA and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies.
1. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:45.777
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:45.864
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:45.959
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:46.070
5. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:46.260
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:46.522
7. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:46.807
8. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:47.055
9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:47.314
10. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:47.483
11. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:47.620
12. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:48.015
13. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:48.437
14. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) 1:48.469
15. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:48.504
16. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:48.771
17. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:49.092
18. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:51.871