A weekend in which the MotoGP class practiced on a wet track before racing on a dry surface made for a complicated technical challenge and the Ducati Team experienced mixed fortunes for riders Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner at Estoril in the Portuguese GP on Sunday.
Having prepared the pair’s respective Desmosedici GP10 prototypes with wet settings a change was required on race day thanks to a reversal in the weather. When the 28-lap contest got underway Stoner suffered the disappointment of a crash on lap five as he pushed hard when running in third position, whilst Hayden ended in fifth having started from the front row of the grid.
The American had been looking good for a podium challenge himself and even led the race early on, but moments on some remaining wet patches of the Portuguese track interrupted his rhythm.
“Unfortunately we lost the chance for the podium,” explained Hayden’s race engineer Juan Martínez. “On the first few laps we were gaining some time on the guys behind. But Nicky had two big moments where he had to slow down and wait until the track conditions were getting better. Unfortunately we lost that chance to get another podium.”
There were positives to be taken from the performance, as Martínez continued: “We worked well all weekend and the conditions were not good for everyone so we all had the same problems. We are happy but also disappointed to have lost that chance for the podium.”
Next up on the calendar is the final round of the 2010 campaign in Valencia, a track at which Hayden scored a top-five finish last year in his first season with Ducati and where he also sealed the 2006 title.
“Valencia is a track where you need really good handling on the bike because the track is not very wide and you are not spending a lot of time on the lean angle with the bike,” observed Martínez. “You need the bike to be quite light and you have to be ready to enter the next corner as soon as you come out of one, because there is not much space between them. Hopefully the weather conditions will also be alright and we can have a chance to fight for the podium.”
Martínez added: “In the past Nicky has won the title on this track in 2006, and it’s a left-sided track which he normally likes. We hope we can finish the season well and also say welcome to Valentino!”