A lack of grip was the main cause of factory Ducati riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden being ninth and tenth on the timesheets during Friday practice for the French MotoGP.
Returning to the scene of his only Ducati podium, Rossi was left 1.372s from Casey Stoner and a fraction behind the top Desmosedici of satellite rider Hector Barbera.
“This afternoon we tried some bike settings that were quite varied, and we're trying to understand what the right direction is for finding more grip on corner exits,” said Rossi. “So far, particularly when the tyre starts to wear, we're losing a lot compared to the others.
“Our gap to the front is pretty large, and although the gaps in our group are quite small, there's more time between us and seventh place than there was in Portugal. We'll have to try to do better. We're trying some different things and we're working hard, so we'll see how we do tomorrow.”
Hayden is also a long way from finding a dry set-up.
“It wasn't an easy day,” he said. “The weather was a bit cold, but luckily it was dry. I struggled a little bit everywhere. Grip on the edge wasn't very good, and any time I would get going okay, I would have a hard time stopping the bike and run wide on entry. I haven't had that problem much this year, and when you push wide, it also hurts the exit.
“We tried a couple of things but never really found a really good direction. We tried the hard tyre a little this afternoon just to check, because the soft tyre definitely feels like it's going off a bit, but I wasn't able to make it work that well. We'll sit down tonight and have a good think about it and see what to do tomorrow.”
Hayden has taken a best race finish of sixth so far this year and Rossi seventh.