Riding in sweltering conditions, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi both made solid progress on Day 2 at the Malaysian Grand Prix, qualifying on the second and third rows, respectively. For the American, sixth-best equals his best qualifying position of the season, last week at Phillip Island.
Valentino Rossi suffered a fall near the end of the session, when he was in the process of lowering his time, but after returning to the garage and switching bikes, he put in a strong final effort to make the third row of the grid.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th (2:02.172)
“The mechanics all worked hard last night changing geometry and the transmission, and I’m thankful because the bike was immediately better. Qualifying didn’t start out great. The track felt a lot slipperier than this morning, but I put the soft tyres in and was able to get down into the 2:02s. On my last soft tyre, I was pushing the front, and I had a couple moments where I was basically down but managed to stay on the bike. We matched our best qualifying time of the year, but truthfully, I think the bike was capable of a bit better. The front row was about a half-second away, but fourth wasn’t out of the question. We know race distance around here is a long, hard day, but that’s why you put in the time doing the training. Hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow and have some fun.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th (2:02.395)
“Today went better. I was able to ride more effectively, although the fall was really a shame because it was the usual type, which means that we still have to solve that problem. In addition, that wasted some precious minutes, and I had to use the second bike, which I didn’t like quite as much. We’re pretty good on most of the track, but we lose a lot—six of the nine tenths in our gap to the front—in T4, especially on the exits of the last two hairpins. Anyway, our pace has improved, especially with the hard tyre, although to tell the truth, the choice for the race won’t be easy. We’ll make the decision at the last minute after evaluating tomorrow’s conditions, and it will really be crucial. I’m expecting a hard race as is always the case here at Sepang, where the conditions are extreme, but anyway, I’m happier than yesterday, as I’m able to ride better.”