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Balance the key as Ducati tackles Silverstone

Only two weeks on from the Catalan GP, after which the Ducati Team underwent two tests at the Circuit de Catalunya and Motorland Aragón, the Italian outfit heads to the Hertz British Grand Prix this weekend to battle it out once more in the MotoGP™ World Championship.

Despite the series only being held twice at the track in recent history, its challenges are well documented, and Nicky Hayden’s Crew Chief Juan Martínez is very aware of what lies ahead: “Silverstone is a track where you have quite fast corners, especially the one that brings you onto the main straight. You have to work quite a bit with the stability of the bike, as you need to be able to accelerate properly, and have enough speed through the corner. After that you have some quite fast changes of direction, so the stability you needed on the last corner can make it harder for the direction change in these corners, so you have to find the right balance.”

As well as finding the right balance, the team will also have to dial the bike into the new standard-issue front tyre, which will be available as a full allocation from the British race onwards. Martínez explains: “This next race at Silverstone is going to be new for us because finally we are going to get all the new front tyres with the new construction, so this will give us the chance to work properly throughout the weekend to try and set up the bike to find the best setting for the front tyre.In the last races we have been comparing one [old tyre] to the other one. It seems like the construction is a bit softer, so you need to set up the bike a bit different, especially the front fork and the front geometry, and we hope we can find a good balance and be competitive there.”

Despite the recent tests, Martínez is adamant that the lack of Silverstone track time will still be a challenge for the team: “At this moment we don’t have so much history from there, but the first year we had a good race there with Nicky where we were fighting for the podium. The year after, last year, we were underperforming from what we were expecting and I hope that all the changes we have done at the last tests will help us be competitive.”

Hayden, who has been fourth at the track in the last two outings, is looking forward to getting back out on the British track:“It’s exciting to go to Silverstone. We’ve been there two years now, but each time it’s been a little different, with changes to the pavement or the pit complex, so it’s a little like going to a new track. With the lap being so long, you’ve really got to take advantage of any dry time you get to find a good setup, as the sessions go by really quickly. There are so many different corners, and it’s really important to dial in the electronics for all the sections. I’d say we lean on the electronics more there than at some other tracks. It’s fast and open, with high-speed corners, and I really like it.”

Valentino Rossi, who did not ride in 2010 due to injury, has even less track time, and is looking forward to getting to know the track a bit more: “I have a one-season ‘disadvantage’ at Silverstone compared to the other riders, who started a year ahead of me, so I’ll have to ride as much as possible during the practice sessions in order to understand the track well, as last year was quite difficult. During the Aragón test last week, we found some small things with the electronics and worked a bit on the settings. Now we’ll see how it works in England. We hope I’ll be able to ride well, that we’ll find a good setup and that we can stay at the same level in the dry as we were at the Barcelona GP, although our chances will be better if it rains.”

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