Power Electronics Aspar's Randy de Puniet (ART) finished the first day of practice for the Valencia MotoGP season finale with the fastest time, though it meant very little. The wet/dry afternoon conditions kept most of the fast riders in the garage, while the CRT set and non-prototype riders mostly dominated the afternoon. De Puniet was fastest followed by San Carlo Honda Gresini's Michele Pirro (FTR Honda), the Italian who will become a Ducati test rider starting on Tuesday.
The most relevant rider in the afternoon was Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden, third fastest. Hayden was .304 of a second behind de Puniet in the afternoon. But it was in the morning where he stood out. On a fully wet track, and in 59 degree weather, Hayden was fastest by 1.005 seconds over Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa with Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo third fastest and another .4 of a second back. Saturday's forecast is for sunshine, but the current prediction for Sunday is a 60 percent chance of rain. With the track being so close to the coast the weather can change quickly. But Hayden, as he always does, put in the work that could put him in good stead come Sunday.
Hayden and teammate Valentino Rossi were the only factory riders in the top 10 in the afternoon. Rossi was fifth fastest and just behind Cardion AB Motoracing's Karel Abraham, putting three Ducatis in a row. For both Rossi and Abraham, this is their final weekend on Ducatis. Rossi is going back to Yamaha and Abraham will be on a CRT machine next year.
Six riders put in a handful of laps that didn't come close to the 107 percent cut-off time and five others never left their garages. Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were joined by Yamaha's 2012 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Andrea Dovizioso, and LCR Honda MotoGP's Stefan Bradl in sitting out the session.
Everyone had been out in the morning. Dovi was fourth fastest followed by Bautista, Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar ART), Rossi, Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow, de Puniet - he was 2.554 seconds behind Hayden - then Stoner, the retiring two-time World Champion who was more than three seconds off the wet pace.
Valencia MotoGP Practice Results:
1. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1:36.965
2. Michele Pirro (FTR) 1:37.084
3. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:37.389
4. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1:37.782
5. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:38.115
6. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 1:38.300
7. Ivan Silva (BQR) 1:38.304
8. Roby Rolfo (ART) 1:38.905
9. James Ellison (ART) 1:39.837
10. Hiroshi Aoyama (BQR) 1:40.497