Nicky Hayden ended the first day of German GP qualifying an impressive second fastest for Repsol Honda, a performance he believes could be crucial if the Sachsenring weather worsens.

"I got a good lap in at the end that was important - it definitely looks like showers for the weekend and today's times could be crucial," Hayden confirmed. "I'm not happy with the race set-up; we need to make some improvements for tomorrow. Basically the front seems to be pushing a lot down hill.

"I made some changes this afternoon from the morning and I think we went backwards a little," he admitted. "We've got a lot of information to evaluate for tomorrow. It's good to be up there in the mix for sure - we just need to stay up there tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Alex Barros completed a strong day for the factory team with an overnight fourth. Of interest was that one of Barros's RC211V machines was sporting a new set of exhausts pipes that have been tested in Japan and made their first public appearance at the Sachsenring.

The new pipes are designed to give better low down power characteristics, which should prove beneficial at the twisty German track.

"The machine feels good as a basic package. We need now to make some small adjustments to improve it in small areas," began Barros. "The new exhaust seems to help a little bit. It smoothes out the power at the lower end of the rev range and helps create more torque which on a track like this which has so many lower speed turns, is important.

"If we can get more traction when accelerating from the slower corners then it will be good. I did not get the perfect lap with the qualifying tyre so I know we have more to come. Basically we have found a good balance - we just need a little bit more speed," concluded the Brazilian.