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.