Nicky Hayden began his final weekend as a Honda MotoGP rider in spectacular style at Valencia on Friday, when he blasted to the top of both free practice sessions in slippery conditions at the Spanish circuit.

Unsurprisingly for the last race of the wettest grand prix season in living memory, both of today's sessions were run in the rain.

This morning's outing was the wettest, conditions improving slightly this afternoon, with less surface water on the track, which allowed Hayden to better his first session time by almost two seconds and end the day just 0.087sec clear of Bridgestone-shod team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

"It was pretty soggy out there, just rain all day. The bike, the team, everything was on point today, now we've just got to keep it rolling, because nobody's going to remember who was quickest Friday come Sunday night," warned Nicky, who will make his Ducati Marlboro debut on Monday.

"The bike and tyres and everything worked pretty good straight away today. We've been using basically the same rain settings I've been using since Sachsenring, they've worked at different tracks and they're working good here, though this track doesn't have a lot of grip, so to go any faster we need to sweeten it up a bit.

"I like being fastest and if it means staying wet all weekend then that would be fine for me, but honestly I hope it dries up. It's going to be a hard weekend, just trying to stay on top, everybody's pushing hard, but we're off to a good start and I'm having fun.

"If it dries up tomorrow we don't think finding a set-up should be too difficult, because the last couple of races we've been using relatively the same settings. The main thing is going to be tyre choice, that's going to be real tough, because there's not going to be much dry time, but it's the same for everybody," he concluded, winless since the 2006 season and without a pole since 2007.

"Nicky did a very good job today, he and his crew found a good set-up very quickly, so they could be fastest in both sessions," added team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. "Michelin tyres are working very well here in these difficult conditions. The latest weather forecast suggests that conditions will improve tomorrow, so Nicky and his team will have to come up with a dry setting, working towards the race on Sunday."

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