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 Ducati Team heads to this weekend’s Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana looking to finish off the 2012 season on a high. Valentino Rossi, contesting his last race with the Italian outfit, still stands a chance of finishing in fifth place in the table, whilst Nicky Hayden could jump up into eighth.
Hayden’s crew chief, Juan Martínez, sums up what is needed from the team to give both riders the best possible tools to achieve their goal: “Valencia racetrack is a track where you don’t have so many corners to the right, so you have to pay a lot of attention in the right hand turns, especially with regards to heating up the tyres to avoid having any crashes there.”
He continues: “This year we will have to find out about the different surface, because they have put a new surface on, and it seems like it’s going to be quite aggressive and it’s going to be very hard for the tyres.We will see what type of tyres Bridgestone will be taking there.”
The Ducati, known for its very high horsepower, will not be calling upon its outright speed at the Valencia circuit, but will instead have to focus on the frame set-up to prolong tyre life. Martínez adds: “The engine is not as important as it could be at Sepang for example, but we have to work on making the tyre life good enough to finish the race.The frame set-up is going to be very important in order to be gentle on the tyres. When you have a new surface on the track, the grip is not really constant on the tyre. It breaks the rubber and the tyres aren’t able to complete the whole race, so we have to set up our frame perfectly.”
Rossi, who has not won at the track since 2004, is looking forward to the atmosphere at the circuit:“Valencia definitely isn’t one of my favourite circuits, apart from the fact that it’s in Spain, which always has a great atmosphere. It’s a ‘Micky Mouse’ track that’s small for MotoGP and therefore difficult and tricky. There are a bunch of left hand corners, and I normally prefer those that go to the right. Anyway, we’ll see. The asphalt was redone and that should have improved both the grip and the bumps. It will be a strange weekend that should be challenging for a few different reasons, but we’ll do our best.”
Hayden mirrors his crew chief’s thoughts: “Valencia is a track and a race that I like a lot. It’s the last round of the year, so the atmosphere is good and everyone always seems to have a little something extra. The track has been resurfaced since we were last there, and it was certainly due. We’ll have to see how it is with tyres when we get there, as new surfaces can be hard on rubber. We’ll need something that has good endurance on the left but also retains enough heat on the right. Smoother tracks are normally better for our bike. One thing we need to do better than in recent races is to make bigger improvements with the bike over the course of the weekend. My team has been working so hard all year, and I really want to end the season with a solid race for them.”