New Ducati Marlboro rider Nicky Hayden finished the second and final day of the Valencia test on top of the timesheets, albeit on a day of wet weather that saw just seven riders take to the track.

With a dry Monday under their belts, the majority of MotoGP riders abandoned their Tuesday schedule completely due to the wet conditions - among them Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.

However, with the amount of winter testing having been heavily reduced ahead of the 2009 season, six of the eight riders changing teams and machines (or new to the premier-class) at least tried to salvage something during the final two hours of the day, by which time the rain had increased to 'full wet' level.

Hayden kept the GP9's perfect Valencia test form intact - after team-mate Casey Stoner's pace setting performance in the dry - with a best lap time of 1min 48.287sec during his 20 wet weather laps.

That was enough to place the 2006 world champion just 0.009sec ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, who has taken Hayden's seat at Repsol Honda for 2009. Both Hayden and Dovizioso (18 laps) were using Bridgestone's wet weather tyres for the very first time.

"I would have preferred to have another dry day today because we still had a lot of things to try with the bike but at least I got chance to get a first feel for it in the wet," said Hayden.

"We've seen with the way the rain has followed us around this season how important it is to have experience in these conditions.

"After my first run I said to myself, 'wow, you're so slow!' But then we made some small changes and I felt better. We haven't really played around with the setting too much today because at the moment the most important thing is to try and adapt to the bike, the tyres, the team and their way of working and communicating.

"I have to be careful not to speak too fast or use too much slang! Joking aside, I know I have a lot of hard work to do but I'm ready for it and so is the team.

"I haven't asked for too many changes because Casey has already shown what this bike can do and now it's up to me to do the same," Hayden declared.

2008 Ducati Marlboro rider Marco Melandri may have used Bridgestone rubber since the start of 2007, but the new Kawasaki rider produced another encouraging performance on the ZX-RR to sit 0.5sec from Hayden, in third overall, after 26 laps.

A one second gap then separated Melandri from Alice's all-rookie line-up of Niccolo Canepa (25 laps) and Mika Kallio (26 laps), who lapped 1.6sec and 2.0sec from Hayden with their satellite spec GP8s, while Toni Elias (16 laps) was a cautious 5.8sec from the top on his Gresini Honda wet weather return.

Completing the field a distant nine seconds a lap behind Hayden was Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi - the only rider out on track to be staying with the same team next year. Capirossi only rode for seven laps this afternoon.

The next MotoGP tests will be held at Jerez and Phillip Island at the end of November, although Stoner will not be present. The 2007 world champion will have bone graft surgery on his injured left wrist on Thursday, requiring at least two months recovery.

The Australian will thus return during the first test of 2009, to be held at Sepang in Malaysia in early February.



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