Nicky Hayden confirmed his intentions to challenge for a first ever MotoGP pole position this afternoon, as the American led the final free practice session at Valencia this morning.

The Repsol rider set a best time of 1min 33.7secs, some 0.5secs off Max Biaggi's 2002 pole pace, but still 0.2secs quicker than he'd been yesterday - and less than a tenth from Valentino Rossi's provisional pole time.

However, nearest to the reigning AMA SBK champion this morning wasn't team-mate Rossi, but Yamaha mounted home hero Carlos Checa. The Fortuna backed rider lapped within 0.193secs of Hayden, as he knocked almost a second off his Friday time.

Rossi, riding in an 'Austin Powers' based livery, took third ahead of Ducati's Loris Capirossi and the fellow factory Hondas of Sete Gibernau and Tohru Ukawa. Former WSBK rivals Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards were a promising seventh and eighth, the latter on his final weekend with Aprilia.

Meanwhile, Camel Pramac Pons rider Max Biaggi still seems to be suffering from set-up problems and was just ninth fastest this morning - having lapped 0.2secs slower than yesterday.

Final qualifying takes place this afternoon.

Saturday free practice:
1. Hayden
2. Checa
3. Rossi
4. Capirossi
5. Gibernau
6. Ukawa
7. Bayliss
8. Edwards
9. Biaggi
10. Barros
11. Nakano
12. Tamada
13. Hopkins
14. Abe
15. Roberts
16. McWilliams
17. Kiyonari
18. McCoy
19. Jacque
20. Aoki
21. Pitt
22. Haga
23. de Gea

 

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