Fresh from his season-best finish of fifth in his home US Grand Prix, Nicky Hayden led the free practice timesheets in Germany in both wet and dry conditions.

Having been fastest for most of the fully wet first half of the hour, the Ducati Marlboro rider continued to dispute the top spot after the change to slicks. But his Desmosedici proved reluctant to release more speed in the vital closing minutes, dropping him to eighth.

Afterwards, Hayden revealed that he has now established his own base set-up to work from.

"It is nice to be able to come to a track and not have to be trying something radical with the set-up on the first day and today we started out with pretty much the settings from Laguna, making a few changes as the session went on," said Nicky, who was 0.588sec behind team-mate and fastest man Casey Stoner.

"Having said that we are trying a new handlebar here, which isn't normally the kind of thing you do at this stage of the season, but we have changed a lot on the back of the bike so we just needed to compensate a little at the front.

"Up to now we've been using data from Casey or previous riders to find a base set-up on a Friday but now hopefully we can work from my own data on a consistent basis.

"My final position today isn't too great but early in the session we were going really well, especially in the wet. We were on top for a long time and in this paddock if you're P1 in the wet, dry or intermediate you have to be riding well and be comfortable with the bike.

"I think I was third up until the last lap, and it is a thing we need to improve - when I try to really dig in we don't seem able to go faster and it's an area we still need to address in order to improve qualifying in particular.

"Anyway, here we've started very well so we'll see where we go from here," he concluded.

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