By Stephen English

Ducati team-mates Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were ranked second and fifth during Friday afternoon's wet practice session for the Spanish MotoGP at Jerez.

Although presently struggling to match the factory Hondas and Yamahas in the dry, the 2012 Desmosedici thus seems to have inherited the strong wet weather characteristics of its carbon-fibre predecessor.

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That is despite the change to a new all-aluminum frame, plus the bigger 1000cc engine for 2012.

Over the winter the Bologna factory spent a lot of time analysing why their 2011 bike was much more competitive in the wet.

Speaking at Jerez on Friday Hayden gave an illuminating response as to why this may be.

"We tried to understand why in real rain we had a bike that was fast," said Hayden. "We used to think with the carbon chassis that in the dry we were too stiff and our theory was that the stiffness actually helps to heat the tyre more, because in the rain you don't always want something real soft.

"Even with suspension you think you need to soften it up, but when you do that the wet tyres don't push into the ground and they don't push through the puddles and you don't generate the heat and work the tyres."

With more rain forecast for the remainder of the Jerez weekend it is likely that Ducati will get a further opportunity to put their theory to the test.