The British MotoGP weekend got off to a perfect start for Ducati when Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden finished first and second in the wet opening practice.

But dry pace again proved a much harder challenge and a double-fall at the same turn in qualifying left the pair seventh (Hayden) and tenth (Rossi) on the grid.

Hayden had provided hope with second place in morning warm-up, but spots of rain on the way to the grid prompted the American to switch to the softer rear tyre.

The 2006 world champion battled in the lead group at the start of the race, and set a best lap just 0.034s behind winner Jorge Lorenzo, but the gamble soon backfired.

"We did the sighting lap with the hard rear tyre, but with the sprinkles and dark clouds, we decided to play it safe and switch to the soft on the grid," said Hayden. "Everybody else [except Rossi] had it too, but we know our bike has been hard on tyres here.

"I got an awesome start, and the beginning of the race was great. I took some chances to hang in as long as I could, and I enjoyed it and learned some things. Then the grip went, which brought on a lot of chatter.

"I couldn't accelerate or carry speed on the straightaway, and we started having a little problem with the electronics in one corner, which cost us some time."

Hayden eventually lost sixth place to the injured Cal Crutchlow on the very last lap.

"Crutchlow got me on the last lap, which is frustrating, but I had my smallest gaps to the front this year in terms of race time and best lap," said Hayden, who was 15s from victory.

"We need to figure out how to make me and the bike less hard on the rear tyre, but there were some positives."

Rossi was the only manufacturer rider to use the harder rear tyre. But the Italian, who struggled to learn the long and wide circuit on his debut last season, never really got to grips with the British track.

The seven time MotoGP champion spent most of the race as the last of the manufacturer riders, before passing Pramac Ducati's Hector Barbera for ninth. Rossi admitted that Silverstone remains a difficult track for him and said a broken exhaust didn't change much.

"It was a difficult weekend apart from the wet first session, in which we were very strong, as we had trouble in every dry session except for this morning's warm-up," said Rossi.

"From the start of the race, I wasn't able to maintain the pace of the others. I tried to stay with them, but I struggled a lot with mid-corner chatter, and a couple of times I came close to losing control of the bike. After some laps, the rear tyre started to slide a lot, and at the same time an exhaust broke.

"To be honest, that didn't affect us so much, though it did rob some power on the straightaway. We scored a few points, but Silverstone is still the most difficult track for me.

"I think that the 'true' Ducati today was that of Nicky, who had a smaller gap to the front at the finish, more or less the level we reached in Barcelona.

"Now we must try to understand why I was only able to ride a bit better this morning, in the warm-up, but above all we must try to be more competitive in the next race, at Assen, which is a track that I like and where we want to return to the level we had at Estoril, Le Mans, and Barcelona."

For team manager Vittoriano Guareschi, Hayden best race lap was the Sunday highlight.

"I think that there were some positive aspects to today's race. Nicky rode at the top riders' pace for a while and he posted the third-best lap time overall, 34 thousandths off of Lorenzo's best," he said.

"He lost ground to the others in the latter stages, similar to what happened to Valentino in Barcelona two weeks ago, so by studying the information we collected with both of them, we'll try to understand how to improve our performance over race distance."

Rossi set only the eleventh fastest lap of the race, almost 1.5s slower than Hayden.


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