The Estoril circuit was the setting for the third round of the 2011 MotoGP season over the weekend, and the Ducati Team came away with more Championship points and plenty to go on following the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Valentino Rossi finished fifth having started from the third row of the grid, and the Italian enjoyed being involved in a race-long battle with Andrea Dovizioso for fourth spot which he appeared close to taking, before his compatriot beat him by 0.025s on the line.
Assessing the race Ducati Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi said of Rossi’s weekend: “I think Valentino ran a good race because this was the first time we saw Valentino in the fight. Unfortunately we lost third position, but we saw a good rhythm.”
Encouragingly for the team and rider the Italian’s recovering shoulder appeared to be even closer to full strength. Guareschi added: “The shoulder started to work very well and with Valentino in a good position it’s possible to improve the bike, especially for the rest of the season.”
Nicky Hayden started from 13th on the grid and had risen as high as seventh by the end of the first lap, but the decision to ride on the softer front Bridgestone tyre option contributed to difficulties for the American in maintaining a good feel throughout the entire race.
Hayden ended ninth having been on the podium in the previous round at Jerez, and Guareschi said: “We think we made a mistake for Nicky because we made a choice about the soft tyre which was not very good. We put a soft tyre in the front and after five or six laps it started to go off.”
“It dropped down a lot after the halfway point of the race and he completely lost the feeling with the front tyre. It was because of this that he finished the race not having a great feeling and not in a very good position,” added Guareschi.
Following the GP the team stayed on at the track for the official MotoGP Test, during which both riders and their crews were able to work on a range of technical aspects. An updated chassis and smoother engine power delivery were the two highlights for Rossi and Hayden, who will hope to benefit from them in the next round at Le Mans.
“Valentino likes the Le Mans track and last year Nicky finished the race very close to the podium, and we think it’s possible to get a good result,” concluded Guareschi.