It proved to be a demanding opening to the Italian Grand Prix for Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden, who struggled to adapt their Desmosedici GP10 machines to the demands of the Mugello circuit in today’s first free practice.
In an attempt to solve the front-end problems that have affected his early season form, Stoner switched back to last year’s front suspension system on one of his bikes today. His early impressions were good but unfortunately that particular bike was damaged in an crash just eight minutes into the session.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 7th (1’51.128)
“I think I only managed three ‘proper’ laps and none of them were decent! I had a crash at the start, which obviously didn’t help. Basically when I went to grab the brakes at the “Bucine” corner there was nothing there! I tried to tip the bike into the corner but she was skipping wide so I just had to run her into the gravel. Stones got everywhere and that kind of stuffed that bike up for the rest of the session. It was a shame because we’d switched back to the old forks on that bike and even though I only had a couple of laps on them it was enough to make me want to use them on both bikes tomorrow. The feel with them is more aggressive but we have feel. The other bike had the new forks on but I just don’t have the same confidence with them and I was losing the front in the same kind of corners that I have been in the last races. Nothing we tried seemed to work today, it was just one of those days! All we can do is start again tomorrow – hopefully the weather stays good because we need laps.”
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th (1’51.387)
“Today wasn’t as smooth out of the gate as we would have liked. The bike didn’t feel too bad but we were struggling in some of the downhill corners to get it to hold the line and change direction without using the brake to get the weight onto the front. We certainly need to take a good look at things together tonight and see where we can make it better because nothing came easy out there. It is not just a front-end thing, we need a little bit of improvement all over the bike. I know my guys will be working hard as always and tomorrow we need to get our head down again because this is such an important race for Ducati.”
Circuit Record: Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2008), 1’50.003 – 171.649 Km/h
Best Pole: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha – 2008), 1’48.130 – 174.623 Km/h