Casey won the car, but Nicky took the time at the last test session before the Moto GP circus packs up and heads to Qatar to get ready for the first race of the 2008 season.
On a weekend at the Spanish Jerez circuit that was cursed with cool temperatures, high winds and intermittent rain, Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden was the fastest rider, turning a 1.38.848 — half a second faster than last year’s pole time.
Casey Stoner on his factory Marlboro Ducati was seventh at the end of it all, but was easily quickest in the wet contest on Sunday, which was the day a BMW car was awarded to the quickest rider.
Honda comfortably topped the overall team list, with five riders in the top 10. Moto GP rookies took the second and third places behind Hayden; Jorge Lorenzo on a factory Fiat Yamaha was second at 1.39.252, while Andrea Dovizioso was third on his JiR Scot Honda.
Ex-Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet was fourth on his LCR Honda, while Valentino Rossi was fifth on the other Fiat Yamaha (on Bridgestones vs Lorenzo’s Michelins).
It was a bit of a surprise to see Stoner down in seventh, but he was by far the best of the Ducati riders. His new team-mate Marco Melandri, who’s been struggling with the bike since joining the team, could only manage 14th on the weekend, behind Sylvain Guintoli on the satellite Alice Ducati squad.
Quote of the weekend had to be from Tech 3 Yamaha rider James Toseland, who, fresh off two WSB titles, has been highly impressive in his Moto GP debut. Toseland commented, "I’m glad nobody except Casey can make that thing (the Ducati) turn."
Rizla Suzuki riders Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi were 10th and 11th, two seconds adrift of Hayden’s fast time. The riders and team aren’t happy, as they’ve really shown no improvement from last year and are quite disappointed with test results so far.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Kawasaki’s John Hopkins did only a few laps on the first day, Pedrosa still nursing the hand he broke at the Sepang test, and Hopkins struggling to recover from a badly torn groin muscle from Philip Island.
Next up … off to Qatar, where on February 28-29 there will be a dress rehearsal for the first-ever Moto GP night race March 9.