This action-packed first day of the TIM Italian Grand Prix at Mugello was marked by challenging riding conditions, with the morning free-practice session taking place on a damp track and the surface still lacking grip in the afternoon.
Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden finished the day in a respectable fourth position after improving upon his seventh place from the morning session, making him the top Ducati rider after the three Yamahas at the front. Meanwhile, his teammate Andrea Dovizioso fell in San Donato corner three minutes from the end of FP1, and the resultant sore neck put his participation in the afternoon session in doubt. With the help of the circuit’s medical staff and the Clinica Mobile, Dovizioso was able to ride in FP2. Though far from fully fit, the Italian managed to do fifteen laps, finishing in seventh place.
Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro had a strong showing aboard his Desmosedici GP13 laboratory bike. Taking part in his third race in a row, the wildcard entrant was second in the morning session and consistently near the top before concluding the day tenth in the combined times.
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 4th (1:49.377)
“Today wasn’t easy at all—very difficult conditions, especially in FP1. At the time, it looked like it could rain at any moment and end maybe our only semi-dry track time of the weekend, so we had to make sure we were in the top ten to not miss out on tomorrow’s Q2 session. In the end, the position isn’t bad, but the gap to the front is large. I expected to have a better feeling with the bike, especially with grip in the middle of the corner; both ends were moving a bit, so I couldn’t really turn well at the apex. Maybe some of it’s down to the track being 'green' but that’s the same for everybody. We’ll see what the weather does tomorrow. Every bit of track time is valuable.”
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 7th (1:49.543)
“I’m really happy that I was able to do the second session because I really didn’t think I’d be able to ride. It’s not that what happened to me was so terrible, but it’s problematic for the riding position. I can’t tilt my head back, so I’m not able to look ahead when I’m tucked on the straightaway or turn my head in the middle of the corners. I must thank Dr Costa and the Medical Centre for doing what they could to help me to ride, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it. My physiotherapist, Francesco Chionne, helped a lot as well. Let’s hope the situation doesn’t get worse, because I’m at the limit with being able to ride. Despite that, I’m pleased with the time. As for my fall, I made a mistake in turn one, which was the wettest corner. I came in a bit wide, but I wanted to try to stay on the asphalt. I was going pretty fast and lost the front, and I started to tumble in the gravel; I twisted my neck, and it definitely had an effect on my micro-hernia.”
Michele Pirro – Ducati Test Team, 10th (1:49.649)
“It was a pretty positive day. We were very competitive on the rain tyres this morning, when I was second. In the dry this afternoon, I did almost the entire session in the top six. When we put on new tyres, I had a bit of trouble with the front brakes and wasn’t able to do the time I was capable of in order to be a bit further up. Anyway, we’re gathering data and tomorrow we hope to improve the pace and make another step forward. We’re ready for any condition, so we’ll see what happens.”