Home star Casey Stoner and Ducati Marlboro team-mate Nicky Hayden claimed second and third places during the storm-lashed Friday practice session at Phillip Island in Australia.
With standing water on the track surface and flooding in some of the gravel traps, Race Direction took the decision to postpone the session for two hours as circuit staff worked frantically to get the track into the best possible conditions.
The rain abated once the session got underway, a dry line forming towards the end of the hour that saw Stoner 0.334sec behind new world champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and Hayden 0.485sec from the Spaniard.
"Other than the wind, which made things very difficult, it was quite a successful day," said Stoner, winner of his home race for the last three years. "We made a couple of changes and I feel we made a little improvement with the bike but again because of the conditions we weren't able to get much of a direction. Hopefully tomorrow we get consistent weather, whatever it may be, so that we can get a proper idea of our set-up in either the wet or the dry.”
“Those were nasty conditions... I mean nasty," added Hayden. "It wasn't so much the wet but the wind. It was really strong and for me it took a little while to get comfortable with being blown around so much. Other than that the bike worked well in the wet. We made a little bit of a change to help the bike turn, keeping some weight on the front, for the second run and I was able to go okay. My pace wasn't too bad.
"Obviously it could be all for nothing if the forecast is right and the conditions are dry from here on but at this track you have to be prepared for anything and take advantage of every situation. We're in the top three and very close in the wet so that's a good sign. Anyway, we'll see what the conditions are like tomorrow and try to take advantage of whatever they are.”