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Cicognani weighs up Ducati’s Qatar fortunes

Ducati MotoGP Project Director Alessandro Cicognani picked over the bones of the opening round of the 2012 season in Qatar, after watching factory team riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi finish sixth and tenth respectively.

The duo experienced very different weekends, with Hayden qualifying fifth after finding a set-up on the Desmosedici GP12 that gave the American plenty to be content with. It was the Grand Prix debut of the new 1000cc machine and Hayden battled hard in a group that included Alvaro Bautista, Stefan Bradl and Hector Barbera to come out on top.

Rossi had a less positive outcome, qualifying in 12th and then experiencing some difficulties in the early stages of the race which also saw him run off track and lose positions before fighting back to finish the 22-lap contest in 10th.

Looking back over the weekend and the race, Cicognani said: “For the first race of the season for sure we were expecting a better race. Until Saturday, especially the practice sessions with Nicky, were good.

“We hoped to maintain fifth position, but in the end we took sixth with Nicky and Vale with the problem he had at the beginning was not able to come back. The gap is still big to the front guy and we just have to work hard to get back.

“The most positive thing is that we are not giving up at all. We fight back. Nicky had a hard battle during the race with the other riders fighting with him, and he was able to maintain the position. So we will try, we will work hard and we will do the best we can.”

Hayden was left slightly disappointed at not finishing higher than sixth, but was hugely satisfied with the work put into the bike over the off-season.

“I felt we had the potential to run with Dovizioso and Crutchlow, but considering my injuries and limited testing over the winter, I guess sixth is pretty good,” said the American. “We put some good points on the board, got some data and learned a lot from riding with other people.

“I’m excited for the season. I think if we improve some things, we have the potential to put up some good results. I’d like to thank the team, the sponsors and everybody back at Ducati for all their work, because we’ve clearly taken a step forward since last year.”

Rossi commented on how his race came undone on the opening laps, and said: “Unfortunately, I lost a lot of time in the beginning because when I had new tyres with good grip, the rear pushed a lot, making it very difficult under braking.

“Then Barbera pushed me off the track and I lost five or six seconds. Otherwise, I could have stayed with that group.”

Next up for the pair is the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, where Hayden scored a podium finish on the Desmosedici last season.


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Day 2 of Valencia test concludes 2011 MotoGP season

Just as was the case yesterday, the second and final day of Valencia’s post-race MotoGP test was blessed with ideal weather conditions.

Valentino Rossi was among the first riders to get on his bike after the track was opened, and he worked tirelessly with his team and Filippo Preziosi to carry out the tests requested by the engineers, who will continue working on the 2012 project tomorrow in Bologna.

Once again, official test rider Franco Battaini substituted for Nicky Hayden, who has an injured scaphoid in his right wrist, though the American stayed at the track and followed the test from the Ducati Team garage. Hayden will likely undergo a small operation in the coming days to speed up his recovery.

MotoGP concludes its 2011 season of racing and testing, and will return to action with the first winter test, planned in Sepang, Malaysia, from January 21 to February 2.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 6th, 1:33.332 (62 laps)
“These were two important days of testing because we needed to collect a lot of data for the next few months of work, which will be crucial. The positives of this bike are certainly the engine, which I like, and the fact that it handles a bit better than the previous one. It’s definitely more fun, in part because you can get sideways more. The frame isn’t bad, but it needs work. We have to improve the braking, because I need to brake harder and later, and we need to improve traction under acceleration. Filippo has many ideas, and now we have a little time to apply them before next year’s tests.”

Filippo Preziosi (Technical Director)
“We were lucky to have sun and generally much better conditions than what we had over the race weekend, and this allowed us to take full advantage of both test days. Unfortunately, Nicky wasn’t able to ride, but at least he’ll have plenty of time to recover before the first test at Sepang next year. We asked Valentino, Franco (Battaini) and the other Ducati riders to carry out a series of comparisons between different solutions, as there are still chassis parameters that we have to define for the project we’re working on. It has been really hard work, but we’ve collected a lot of information that we’ll now use for the design that we’ll be doing in the coming weeks.”

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Ducati Team starts work for 2012

The clouds finally cleared in Valencia today, allowing the MotoGP riders to take full advantage of the seven-hour-long first of two days of testing.

Valentino Rossi started the important work of collecting information in preparation for the 2012 winter test season, trying out a long list of setups with the team, under the supervision of Technical Director Filippo Preziosi.

Nicky Hayden made a late decision not to take part in the test, due to injuries incurred when he was taken out in the first turn during Sunday’s Grand Prix. X-rays to his right hand shortly after the fall proved negative, but an MRI today revealed non-displaced fractures to his scaphoid and radial styloid.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 6th, 1:33.857
“This bike is nicer to ride than the 800, even if we’re only just starting our work. You can say that it’s improved in some respects, while in others, it’s very similar to the other bike, but that’s exactly what we expected. We know we’re doing preparatory work for the bike that we’ll use in the 2012 winter tests, which are very important. The engine seems to be pretty good already. It’s fast, although I never really found myself with the others to do a direct comparison. On the other hand, I’m a little slower in mid-corner, and we also have to try to improve rear grip because for now, we’re not able to get the power to the ground and take full advantage of it. But it’s not bad for a first taste, and the really important thing is that we can work more freely, changing the bike’s balance, the weight distribution, the measurements, and whatever we need as we prepare for the important next three months of work.”

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team)
“This morning I put my leathers on to go out, but I was still pretty uncomfortable. I went to the mobile clinic for a painkiller, and when I got there, the doctor said it would be better to get a proper scan. They set me up for an MRI at a local clinic, and the fractures were pretty clear. After talking to the doctor and my physiotherapist, we decided not to ride, even though we do have some stuff we’d like to test for Ducati. The scaphoid is a unique bone, and if you mess with it, it can take a long time to heal because it gets limited blood supply. I just have to be smart and watch the test. We’ll get some more opinions and decide whether to get surgery.”

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Ducati Team ouf of Valencia GP in turn 1

After a positive first two days during the final round of the 2011 MotoGP season, the Ducati Team had an unfortunate and premature end to the Valencia Grand Prix with riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden both being taken out of the race in a Turn 1 racing incident.

The American experienced pain and swelling in his right hand following the fall, but an X-ray in the mobile clinic didn’t reveal any fractures. Rossi and Hayden finish the season seventh and eight, respectively, in the final points standings.

A post-race test will take place at the Valencia circuit on this Tuesday and Wednesday.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) DNF
“There’s really nothing to say about today, other than that I’m sorry beyond measure not to have been able to put on Sic’s T-shirt for the lap of honour. It’s truly a shame. I started well and all the conditions were in our favour for having a nice race, but we were unfortunate and received no points here either. We finish the season tied with Sic, with him ahead of me in the standings. I guess that’s my tribute to him!”

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) DNF
“I felt some riders coming up the inside really fast as we approached Turn 1. Then something happened and it was just the domino effect—race over in the first corner. I’m okay other than my hand being pretty sore. It’s unfortunate. One of our bike’s strengths is generating heat in the tyres, and that’s what you need on a cold, wet track like this. Already on the warm-up lap, the bike felt good. It’s easy to say now, but I honestly feel like we could have put up a decent fight today and had some fun.”

Vittoriano Guareschi (Team Manager)
“Today I’m particularly sorry to have to talk about a race in which once again, we weren’t able to capitalize on our potential. In practice, both Vale and Nicky demonstrated that they were able to ride this track well in the conditions that we had for the race, but after they both started well, they really were victims of a classic first-turn crash. It happens, but it hurt Ducati worse than the others. There’s not much else to say. Now we’ll focus on the work that’s about to start for 2012.”

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