With a weekend of dry track and favourable racing conditions, the Ducati Team had its best dry race so far this season at the Gran PremiAperol de Catalunya, as it continued to close the gap on the front-runners.
Valentino Rossi finished 17 seconds off the top in seventh place, while Nicky Hayden dropped off the pace slightly into ninth, after loosing feeling in his right hand.
Team Manager VittorianoGuareschi was pleased with the day’s proceedings: “We had the best race in dry conditions and we reduced the gap [to the front]. We worked well last week in Mugello [private test] because we introduced the new electronics package. This improved the driveability and I think this is why we were closer to the group in front of us. We do however need to improve the bike some more.”
Despite the improvement in pace, the Ducati Team is not resting on its laurels, as Guareschi outlines what is next on the agenda: “We have two important tests, here and in Aragón, and we want to improve the settings. We want to solve our under-steer problem and improve our understanding of the correct weight distribution. These are the areas we’ll be investigating.”
Rossi was also pleased with the team’s progress: “Today went pretty well, and in some ways, it was the best dry race of the year so far: I finished closer to the group in front of me, and the gap in lap times was about half a second, which is the smallest that we’ve had so far. Of course we’re still only talking about a seventh-place finish, but nonetheless we reached our current potential in the dry. Now we have two days of important testing, and we’ll try the aluminium swingarm again, along with some setup ideas in an effort to gain a bit more front grip, to help the bike to corner better. We hope to take another small step, because the riders who were ahead of me today weren’t ‘too far’ ahead.”
Nicky Hayden, who had shown top-Ducati pace all weekend, was disappointed that his physical condition affected his weekend: “It was very difficult for me because I started having a problem with my hand going to sleep. My pace was okay in the beginning, but after that group got away I really just tried to bring the bike home without crashing, since I couldn’t feel how hard I was braking. [In the tests] I think we can make some improvements.”