Americans Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies both made competitive starts to their home Indianapolis MotoGP round - but also both crashed.

Hayden was first to become unintentionally separated from his machine, sliding off his factory Ducati at high-speed through turn 13 with 13 minutes of the hour to go.

Concern was raised about Hayden's left arm, which he was examining in the aftermath, but it turned out to be nothing worse than a friction burn caused by trying to protect the wrist he chipped last time out at Brno.

Hayden returned to the track in the closing minutes and, although he didn't improve, still finished the session third fastest, behind only his team-mate Casey Stoner and MotoGP title leader Jorge Lorenzo.

"At the start of the session I was feeling really good and I was going quite fast on a hard tyre. When we put the soft tyre in I felt even better and maybe got a little too excited because that's when I made a mistake," explained Hayden, who took his only Ducati podium to date at Indianapolis last year.

"I was off line a little but I didn't force it, I just let it go because it's only first practice but 'bam'! I was down immediately. It was a bummer because my suspension guy had come up with some settings that were working really good and I really liked the feel.

"At least I didn't do any more damage to the wrist - all I got was a friction burn on my arm from digging it in trying to save the wrist. It's nothing major though and after finding a good base setting today I'm looking forward to possibly trying the new forks tomorrow."

Spies suffered a similar fall, at turn six, with just a handful of minutes remaining. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie was also unhurt, but his session was over and he dropped from sixth to eighth after the tumble.

"I'm actually pretty happy with that session even though it ended not so great with the crash," said Spies. "I'm not too upset because it was one of those crashes that I know what I did wrong. There's a bump going into turn six and I turned in a little too early.

"I knew I was turning in too early but I thought I wasn't pushing the front hard enough to make a difference. But as soon as I hit the bump I lost the front. I missed the last five minutes and I definitely could have gone quicker because the bike was working good and I felt good.

"I was right up there all the time but I just made a mistake. Without that I'm sure I could have gone three or four tenths faster and been in a better position. But I did quite a lot of consistent fast laps and we have a lot of good data on race tyres, so it was a good start to the weekend."

Spies and Hayden were the only riders to fall on Friday.

Spies was confirmed as a factory Yamaha rider for 2011 a few hours before the session. Hayden is tipped to be confirmed as staying at Ducati, to ride alongside Valentino Rossi, later in the weekend.

The third American in the MotoGP field, Spies' team-mate Colin Edwards, was sixth in practice.

"I'm really happy with that session because the bike felt good and that's the main thing," he said. "We've had so many races this year where I've struggled finding a good set-up quickly and we've been trying to catch up right from the first session. But the front-end setting we first tried in Brno is working well here too, so it seems like we made a big breakthrough at the last race.

"Now I can hold good corner speed instead of fighting the bike, and I feel more confident and comfortable. I've always said this season that if the bike is working underneath me, I can still ride it fast. And that is the case now. I got my best result of the season with seventh in Brno and that gave me some momentum. We've just got to carry it on and show what we are capable of."


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