By Stephen English
Nicky Hayden was sixth fastest in Thursday afternoon's wet practice at Assen, but the American was far from happy with his opening day at the Dutch MotoGP round.
In the morning's dry session the 2006 world champion languished almost two seconds off the pace after struggling for grip throughout the session ran in cold conditions.
"In the morning we struggled a lot to do competitive times and we struggled to make the bike work so we could push," said Hayden. "We struggled with grip on entry, the tyres here are a bit different this year to compensate for the heat and when the grip is bad we usually suffer worse than the others."
Usually when the track gets wet the Ducatis are on the pace, but Hayden initially struggled before finding a better balance on the final run, having made the bike considerably softer in an attempt to find more grip.
"We found some direction in the end, but even in the wet it took us longer to get up to speed. I was really uncomfortable and not able to push, but on my last run we made some changes and I was able to push. We need to improve wet and dry."
Hayden was just two hundreds of a second slower than his teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, indicating that Ducati were getting as much as they could from the bike during the session.
Like team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, Hayden needs a dry session on Friday morning in order to try and break into the top ten combined free practice times - required for automatic entry into Qualifying 2.