Thanks to Casey Stoner, the 800cc Ducati Desmosedici has never lost an Australian Grand Prix, winning for the past four years.
That looks set to change in 2011, with Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi just ninth and 13th on the combined Friday practice timesheets at Phillip Island, which were again led by Stoner, now on a Honda.
“As far as weather is concerned, this is probably the nicest day I can remember at Phillip Island in a long time, but we always hope for better results here than what we had today," said Hayden. "The track's definitely got a bit bumpier, which is obviously the same for everybody, so it's not an excuse.
"The bike is harsh over the bumps, so in places I have to use a slower line in order to miss them. We tried to do some laps on hard tyres this afternoon, but we need to find more grip, both in order to be faster and to get better tyre life. We've got a lot of work to do, but we'll do our best tomorrow.”
Rossi, completing his first laps since injuring his little finger in a lap one crash at Motegi, had a tough day all round.
"I wasn't able to ride well today, in part due to the pain in my left pinky finger, which bothered me more than I expected, but especially because of the feeling with the bike," said the Italian. "I'm not able to brake well or enter corners well.
"Tomorrow we'll try stronger painkillers for my hand, and from a technical point of view, we'll look for a different solution to improve the front and to do better than thirteenth place. We won't change the setup completely. We'll probably move the position of the front wheel, but we're just talking about small changes.”
Nine time world champion Rossi now has just three more chances, starting this weekend, to avoid his first ever winless season in grand prix.