Round 7 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, the TT Assen, took place last weekend as the season continued to hurtle towards its halfway point, and the Ducati Team pairing of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden finished fourth and fifth respectively at the Dutch track.
Both riders received updates to their machines, Rossi riding with a new chassis – the frame being developed for 2012 – and a new seamless clutch, whilst Hayden received a ‘step-2’ frame on the GP11 which offered the American a softer front end on his bike.
Rossi, who qualified on the fourth row, and Hayden who started from row three, made rapid progress through the field to both finish inside the top five and Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi analysed the results following the race.
“We ran a good race with both Vale and Nicky, we finished in fourth and fifth positions, and this is a big step from yesterday (Friday),” said Guareschi in reference to the qualifying session, which had not gone the way either rider had expected or desired. “We have a bit of experience with the bike now, and Vale today ran with a completely new set-up. For our bike this is important because we improved the confidence with the bike.”
Rossi finished the race 30 seconds off winner Ben Spies, prompting crew chief Jeremy Burgess to admit that there was still a lot of work to be done, but Guareschi believes the progress made is sufficiently encouraging and is hopeful ahead of the next round at Mugello.
“We have a bit more experience, a bit more information on the machine now,” said the Italian of the data collected throughout the weekend. “We have one good set-up but it’s a set-up we made with the 1000cc bike. Everything is different now, but we want to run a good race at Mugello which is Ducati’s home race.”
Both Rossi and Hayden will want to banish memories of last year’s Mugello GP, at which the Italian broke a leg in free practice and where Hayden crashed out of the race when trying to recover from a poor start.
Rossi’s record at the circuit is phenomenal – he won for seven consecutive seasons between 2002 and 2008, whilst Hayden has a single podium at Mugello from his title-winning 2006 season. Each has taken a single podium finish this season, and will both be looking for a first rostrum result with Ducati at the venue.