After a positive start to the day for Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, who were able to further reduce their gaps to the front during the third free-practice session, the Ducati Team experienced a difficult qualifying session.
Approximately ten minutes from the end of the session, Nicky Hayden crashed in Turn 14 while on a fast lap with the soft tyre. After an initial check at the track’s Medical Center, the American was transferred to Indianapolis’ Methodist Hospital, where additional examinations revealed two small, non-displaced fractures to the second and third metacarpal on his right hand. The results of the CAT were negative, and the American should be discharged this evening or tomorrow morning, but in any case he won’t take part in the Grand Prix.
Valentino Rossi was confident after the practice session that he would be able to lower his time again in qualifying, but he wasn’t ultimately able to improve on the time he had set in cooler conditions.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 11th (1:40.763)
“It’s a shame because this morning went pretty well. I was able to do some good laps both with the hard tyre and the soft, and in the end I wasn’t so far off, actually lapping on the pace of the second group. That made me optimistic, and I thought that I could go 1’39” in qualifying, but I wasn’t even able to match my time from free practice. I didn’t have rear grip, and the rear tyre was sliding a lot. On the last fast lap, I had a big risk in the same turn where Nicky crashed. This track has strange asphalt that has less grip than what we’re used to but that still wears the tyres. For that reason, we have tyres with stiffer carcases at our disposition here. We’ll try to make some changes for tomorrow in order to gain a bit more grip, and we’ll see what my race pace is.”