The Ducati Team had arrived at Laguna Seca with much optimism after the team’s good showing in Mugello, yet a tough race for Nicky Hayden and the season’s first DNF for Valentino Rossi have given the team a big challenge ahead of Indianapolis.
However there was some excellent news for the team just before the U.S. round, as it secured the services of Hayden for another year. Team manager VittorianoGuareschi was delighted with the announcement: “For Nicky I’m very happy we signed the new agreement for the next season.This is very good news for us, because we can focus fully on the race and on the bike.Nicky has been good in the last part of the first half of the season this year, especially the last two races, where we closed the gap a lot.”
In the next few weeks heading up to the Indianapolis round, there will also be much speculation about Rossi’s future with the team. Guareschi comments: “For Vale this is a very tough moment because we want to understand his future, and we want to keep going with him. And we want to improve the bike. This is important for motivation, but he is very concentrated, because he wants to keep trying for the best results with us.”
After some issues in testing at Mugello before the Laguna round, the riders were not greeted with the technical upgrades they had expected, yet Guareschi is confident that new parts will be available in time for the next round: “We have a new engine for the second part of the season. This new engine is not very different, but it’s ready for a new part. In Indianapolis we’ll introduce a new part to improve the driveability and improve the character a little bit. This is the main point for the next part of the season. This is a very important step for us to improve the feeling with the bike.”
Despite the tough race, Hayden, buoyed by his new contract, remains upbeat about the coming round: “I was fighting the bike and running wide in the turns, but I pushed until the end. It’s frustrating to struggle so much all weekend at Laguna, and it’s not the way I wanted to go into the two-week break, but I think we can put up a better fight at Indy.”
Rossi, who’s main issue was front-end feel, is hoping to improve after his first race crash this year: “I wasn’t fighting for the podium, but a crash like that at the end of the race is still disappointing because I had done the whole race like the first lap and my rhythm wasn’t fast at that moment. Still, I lost the front when I was approaching the Corkscrew, when the bike was vertical, right when I touched the brake, a bit like what happened at Silverstone. We have a real problem: again today, we had a hard time getting the front tyre to work, and it was like new after thirty laps. Fortunately I’m fine, although it was a pretty hard crash. It wasn’t a great weekend. Now we have a short break, two important weeks, and then we’ll see how it goes at Indy.”