After a much-deserved day off following the season-ending race in Valencia, the MotoGP teams and riders were back at the same Spanish circuit today for the first half of a two-day test. Unfortunately, the session was heavily affected by the weather, as rain and sprinkles fell off and on throughout the day. Nonetheless, Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso both opted to put in considerable track time as they begin their work preparing for the 2013 season.
Eager to try his new Desmosedici for the first time, Dovizioso was one of the first riders out when the track opened at 10:00 a.m., and he managed to turn four laps on slick tyres before the precipitation arrived. He then did his first of several exits on rain tyres, and was joined by Hayden after lunchtime. Both riders then rode in the afternoon with wet setups.
The Ducati Team will be back at the Valencia circuit tomorrow for another day of testing.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) 3rd, 1:39.868, (41 laps)
“I’m happy after my first day, mainly because I have a good feeling with my crew and I had a good lap time in the wet, even compared to the wet times over the weekend. The conditions weren’t ideal for a debut on a new motorcycle, but anyway, it was important for me to do some kilometres on the bike. The Ducati is known for working well in the wet, and I can confirm that, but obviously, we have to try it in the dry. Unfortunately, it looks like the weather tomorrow will be like today.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 5th, 1:42.571 (30 laps)
“It was a wet test day, but we did some exits. I was mainly testing some shock settings and some things that we didn’t get a chance to try during the weekend because of the changing conditions. I also tried a different frame that Valentino had tried, and that I wanted to use in the wet. Obviously, dry weather would have been better, but it’s never a bad thing to do some laps. It would be nice to get some sun tomorrow, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. If not, we’ll probably ride a bit in the wet again.”
The final race of the 2012 MotoGP season, at Valencia, was seriously affected by uncertain weather.
After the wet warm-up session, in which Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden had found a good rain setting, the precipitation stopped and the MotoGP race started with a track that was only damp.
Most of the riders began the race with rain tyres, though a small group risked slicks, returning to the garages to change bikes just before the lights went out. That group, which was obliged to start from pit lane, included the eventual winner, Dani Pedrosa, and Nicky Hayden. The American was caught out by the tricky conditions and crashed before he was able to take advantage of having made the right choice.
Valentino Rossi started with rain tyres and was in fourth place when, 25 laps from the end, he re-entered pit lane to switch bikes. With the dry tyres, he no longer felt at home and was only able to finish in tenth place.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 10th
“It’s really a shame that the last race with Ducati finished this way. Things went well this morning in the wet warm-up, and in similar conditions, it would have been possible to do a nice result. Instead, this half-and-half situation was truly difficult. In the end the right choice was to use the slick tyres, but my bike on the grid had a very different setting from the other one, so I didn’t feel like switching. With the rain tyres, I felt fine at first, but then when it was necessary to switch, the situation became more complicated. There was a thin dry line, but I couldn’t put the bike where I wanted and as soon as I would go off that line, it was very risky. I could only try to finish. I would have liked to finish these two years with Ducati better. They were two difficult seasons, but I nonetheless leave behind many people that I enjoyed working with, and with whom it was nice to go racing.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) DNF
“It’s a shame to end a difficult season in a bad way, but at least I’m 100 per cent okay from the crash. On the grid, it was a really close call between slick tyres and rain tyres. If the track had been warm, it would clearly have been better to start on slicks, but the cold surface temperature made it close. On the warm-up lap, Lorenzo was going faster than us on slicks, so in my opinion, it was the right decision to come in and switch bikes and start from pit lane. After that, it was okay on the dry line, but to make passes, you had to go out where it was treacherous. I got behind Petrucci and couldn’t find a way past. I was waiting to go by him on the front straightaway, but I got a little bit wide in the last corner and hit a patch. I went down so quickly that there was no way to save it. Next season starts now, so hopefully things will be better.”
Vittoriano Guareschi, Team Manager
“Today we lost an opportunity to have a nice race, both with Nicky and with Vale, and although that can happen in such uncertain conditions, we’re obviously not happy. Nicky switched bikes immediately, like Pedrosa, who won in the end, but he was done in by the slippery asphalt. Vale went well in the early laps, while he was on the rain tyres, but he didn’t feel good with the slicks. He tried until the end, without ever being able to push hard enough. We would have liked to finish differently, but anyway, we tried until the end.”
Qualifying practice for the GP de la Comunitat Valenciana was particularly challenging for the Ducati Team. With just one hour of time—the qualifying session itself—on a completely dry track, Nicky Hayden found a setup with some positives, though he still had some difficulty turning.
Rossi also had problems with the front end, especially in bringing the hard front tyre up to temperature on the right side. The Italian had to use the soft tyre, which he doesn’t think will be the ideal choice for tomorrow’s race.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 7th (1:32.503)
“It’s been strange with the weather this weekend. We had to basically go out in qualifying and spend some time to understand the new grip and also the bike, then try to get a good time. The bike was okay, but the front was pushing a lot, especially on corner entry, with the brake still on. The new pavement certainly helps the bike feel better, and I thought we could be closer to the guys at the front, but they went really fast today. I’m not too thrilled with how it went, but we have a couple of ideas to try in warm-up tomorrow. We’ll see.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 11th (1:32.877)
“Today went pretty badly, and I’m sorry because we really hoped to do well in these last races. It’s also true that Hayden, Barberá and Bautista aren’t so far ahead, so tomorrow we’ll certainly try to do a good start, to pass some people and make up some positions. Unfortunately, today I had some problems with the hard front tyre. I lost the front twice at mid-session because we’re not able to get it up to temperature well on the right side. The race should be done with the hard, so we’ll see what the temperature is tomorrow or if there’s bad weather. If it were to rain, we would certainly be more competitive.”