As is always the case, Nicky Hayden is struggling to find traction on corner entry with his factory Ducati. Still, the 2006 MotoGP World Champion ended up eighth fastest today at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, guaranteeing himself a shot in tomorrow’s Q2 session.
Hayden’s best lap was a 1:56.670 – .587 of a second slower than Marc Marquez on the factory Repsol Honda.
“It certainly wasn’t easy tonight, as conditions were changing a lot,” Hayden said in a team release. “The wind was really strong in FP2, and there was a lot of sand on the track, but when things improved for FP3, I could push a bit harder. I kind of treated the session like qualifying, because it’s important to advance to QP2. My position isn’t great, but the gap to the front isn’t so bad. We want to make the bike more controllable in the wind and improve traction on corner entry. So if we can keep working in a good way, maybe we can do well in qualifying. It should be exciting.”
So far Hayden has been out-gunned by his new teammate Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian ending up fifth – .333 of a second behind Marquez – after running as high as third in the session.
“I’m very happy with the position, but I’m especially pleased with the gap to the front,” Dovizioso said. “Fifth place is good, but the gap of three tenths is even better. I didn’t expect to be so close, especially because up until this session, we didn’t really have true parameters. In fact, this was the first faceoff with the soft tire, and we can say that we were pretty close to the others when the tire is new. We still have to see how things are in race configuration, and tomorrow before qualifying, we’ll decide if we should go ahead with the soft tire.”