Nicky Hayden's 2009 MotoGP preparations came to a modest conclusion at Jerez on Sunday, when the new Ducati Marlboro rider recorded the eleventh fastest lap time in the red flag interrupted and rain-shortened 'qualifying' session.
While team-mate Casey Stoner claimed a new BMW sports car, problems forced Hayden onto his spare bike with which the #69 survived a scary off track moment on his way to a best lap 1.755sec slower than the Australian.
“This morning we made some small improvements and I was able to go a bit quicker but the qualifying session was a bit of a disaster,” admitted Hayden. “We were making some changes beforehand but ran out of time to get the bike ready and I lost some time at the beginning of the session. Then when I went out we had a clutch problem and I had to change to my second bike, which I've hardly ridden this weekend, and it had a different setting.”
Looking ahead to his Ducati race debut at Qatar on April 12, the 2006 world champion admitted he had hoped to be closer to Stoner's pace.
“Casey has shown the package is good and to be honest I'd hoped to be closer to him by this stage, but it's time to go racing now so we'll go out to Qatar, work hard and see what happens,” said the former Repsol Honda rider.
Pramac rookie Mika Kallio was the closest Ducati rider to Stoner at Jerez, setting the sixth fastest lap time but still 1.503sec slower than the 2007 world champion.
Ducati test rider Vittoriano Guareschi was also present at the Jerez test, and was seen testing an aluminium chassis. The standard GP9 has a carbon fibre chassis, with a carbon fibre swingarm also introduced at the previous Qatar test.