Stoner Sets Early Benchmark at Jerez, Hayden on the Page Again

Ducati Marlboro Team - Spanish GP - Free Practice ENG

Casey Stoner set an early target that his rivals were unable to follow in this afternoon's opening free practice for the Grand Prix of Spain, clocking what proved to be the fastest time of the session after just four laps. An effort of 1'39.731 was inside the quickest lap of last year's race and secured the Australian's position at the top of the timesheet overnight, despite a crash at the end of the session from which he escaped unharmed.

His team-mate Nicky Hayden also made an impressive start to the weekend, racking up 25 laps and clocking the third fastest time of the session. Hayden's form continues a positive start to his season, having been challenging at the top of the time sheets throughout winter testing and battling for the podium at the opening race in Qatar three weeks ago.

CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1st (1'39.731)
"My first run was okay but we had some problems in braking so we spent the rest of the session trying to improve this area, comparing the two bikes. The crash at the end was a similar situation to Qatar - I went into the corner with less pressure on the front and it closed. It's never nice to crash but at least it gives us a better understanding of what happened in Qatar and which direction we need to take with the set-up over the rest of the weekend. Other than that I am really happy - I think this is the first time I've been fastest in any MotoGP session at Jerez. We've started out strongly, we have no worries and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

NICKY HAYDEN - (Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd (1'40.148)
"The session went well and I'm really happy right now because this is a big one for us. I was fast in Malaysia and Qatar but that was after a lot of testing at those tracks, experimenting with many different settings, but we've come here and been fast out of the gate, which was one of my goals for this season - to be on the pace on Fridays. We didn't set the world on fire or break any track records so we're not getting carried away but the bike is close and if we can get it a little better in the fast corners we should have a good package. The team made one little change today that helped a lot and on my last exit I was able to stay in the 1'40s from the first lap to the last. It's a good start and if we keep working in this way we can have a good weekend."

Circuit Record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha - 2009), 1'39.818 - 159.518 Km/h
Best Pole: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha - 2008), 1'38.189 - 162.164 Km/h

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