Nicky Hayden said he was relieved to see factory Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner setting such a hot pace after opening practice for the Laguna Seca MotoGP race.
Stoner was in sparkling form in California to edge out dominant world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo by 0.233s.
Home favourite Hayden, who has won the Laguna Seca race twice in 2005 and ’06, was a massive 1.203s behind the Aussie in seventh place and he said: “Casey’s always so fast here. But that’s good for me that he’s fast.
"It shows what the bike can do and the engineers can talk and stuff, so in some ways it’s to my advantage.” "
Hayden said his biggest problem was finding a good gearbox setting and he added: “We’ve got to change the gearbox a little bit. Normally, with the new engines this year we pretty well had it calculated really close, but today we missed it a little bit. So hopefully we can change that.
"This is a tough place for the gearbox because it’s so much second and third gear. So we’ll definitely change that. Actually the bike wasn’t too bad. It was relatively close out of the gate.
"I know seventh isn’t where we wanted to be, but we’re not going to go home. Some of the races this year where I’ve been fast on Friday hasn’t been good. Assen and last week in Germany I was third on Friday and that was about as good as it got. forward. So hopefully tomorrow we can do a big step.”