After struggling to match even the leading satellite Honda riders during the final pre-season test at Qatar, both Pedrosa and Hayden were given last year's model to evaluate during practice for the inaugural night race.

Pedrosa later opted for the '08, while Nicky went with the '07 - which he qualified sixth on the grid, two places ahead of Pedrosa.

But race day saw a night-and-day difference in form between the pair, with the injured Pedrosa leading the early laps en route to an 'unbelievable' rostrum finish, while Hayden plummeted as far back as 12th before taking the flag in tenth position.

"It wasn't a pretty weekend," said Nicky afterwards. "Nothing's really gone great since we rolled off the truck here two weeks' ago. We've struggled and, man, just didn't really make any progress.

"It's quite frustrating for me and the team, but that's the way it goes; this isn't an easy game. We just really missed the set-up and were working the rear tyre way too hard. We'll definitely try to shake this off and we need to be a lot stronger at Jerez.

"We got beat bad today so we've obviously got a lot of work to do, but I'm confident in the team and that we'll make a big step forward at Jerez," concluded the #69.

Hayden will be back on the '08 RCV, albeit still powered by last year's spring-valve engine, for round two of the 2008 world championship.

"Nicky tried hard and of course he will do better than today. He raced with the 07 RC212V because he had a better feeling with this machine but at Jerez he will test the 08 bike and some new parts," said Repsol Honda team manager Kazuhiko Yamano.