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Rhythm key to Ducati progress at Jerez

The final score sheet may not read the way Ducati would have liked, yet does little to hide the significant progress made by the team in a Jerez race weekend which proved to be a battle with the elements.

Ducati started the weekend on a high, as Valentino Rossi set the second fastest time in the wet during Friday´s free practice. This was followed up in qualifying by a spectacular lap from Nicky Hayden in the dry, to give the Italian team their first front row start since Valencia 2010. Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi was particularly pleased with the American´s performance: “Nicky finishing qualifying in such a top position was a very good result. This was very positive because it gives us a much clearer picture about our potential ability.”


Guareschi however, refused to get carried away, as Rossi struggled in the dry qualifying session, and ultimately reverted to a setting similar to that of his team mate: “We had a very difficult weekend, made especially tough with the weather conditions. We tried a lot different settings, especially with Valentino. In the last session, the pre-race morning warm up, we tried a completely different setup, which was a small modification that brought a big change. Valentino rode a good race, and finished it with a good rhythm.”

Hayden, who suffered from tyre degradation early on in the race, is confident that the bike has got a lot of potential: “We know our bike is great at generating heat in the tyres, and for the first few laps, I was able do what I wanted. Then about the time it looked like the other guys’ tyres came up to temperature, mine had already started losing grip, especially in the front. My setup was okay, but to really try to go with those guys wasn’t possible. The bike’s got a lot of potential, but at the moment, the gap to the rest is still too far. Hopefully we can get a dry weekend in Estoril and try to be closer to the front on Sunday.”

Rossi, who had to adapt his riding style for the race with his new settings, was upbeat with the weekend´s positive signs: “The positive thing from today’s race is that I think it might help us to do a bit better in the coming events, starting next week in Portugal. Today we used a setup that’s new for us, and it gave some positive signs. I wasn’t going bad once I found my rhythm, in the sense that I was matching the times of those who were fighting for sixth place, and I was able to push until the end, doing a 1:41.0 on the penultimate lap. This helps me to be a little more optimistic as I look ahead to the next races because if I’m able to ride a bit better, it could be a place for us to start from.”

Guareschi concludes that the bike´s rhythm and continuity hold the key to a successful next round in Estoril: “We still need to improve the bike´s rhythm during the race, but at every round we are taking another step forward. This is important because we want to reduce the gap to the front for the rest of the season.”

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Hayden, Rossi eight and ninth in Spanish Grand Prix

The weekend’s last rain shower fell less than an hour before the Spanish Grand Prix, leaving time for the water to evaporate enough to have the race declared dry, so the MotoGP riders started on slick tyres. Nicky Hayden, who started from the first row, was involved in a back-and-forth battle for third place with Crutchlow and Pedrosa. The American then steadily lost ground as grip decreased, eventually finishing eighth. Valentino Rossi, who started from the fifth row, steadily improved his pace as he climbed to eighth place.
Both riders will continue working on the setup of the GP12, starting this Friday when they again take to the track for free practice at the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril, and also during the post-race test on Monday.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 8th
“It was fun for a couple of laps. We know our bike is great at generating heat in the tyres, and for the first few laps, I was able do what I wanted. Then about the time it looked like the other guys’ tyres came up to temperature, mine had already started losing grip, especially in the front. I was pushing wide in places and guys started coming past me. We knew it would be tough in the dry. My setup was okay, but to really try to go with those guys wasn’t possible. I was able to close back down on Bradl at the end and have a bit of a race the last couple of laps, but he beat me. Eighth place is certainly not what our goal is. The bike’s got a lot of potential, but at the moment, the gap to the rest is still too far. Hopefully we can get a dry weekend in Estoril and try to be closer to the front on Sunday.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th
“The positive thing from today’s race is that I think it might help us to do a bit better in the coming events, starting next week in Portugal. Today we used a setup that’s new for us, and it gave some positive signs. First we tried some solutions to give me a feeling similar to what I’ve had in the past, but it doesn’t work. Today’s setting was very similar to what Nicky has used for a while, though not exactly the same. I must get used to riding the bike a bit differently than I’m used to, and today that caused me to lose some ground in the early laps because I was basically starting blind. I wasn’t going bad once I found my rhythm, in the sense that I was matching the times of those who were fighting for sixth place, and I was able to push until the end, doing a 1:41.0 on the penultimate lap. This helps me to be a little more optimistic as I look ahead to the next races because if I’m able to ride a bit better, it could be a place for us to start from. In fact, we’ll use this setting when we start on Friday. Naturally, we’ll have to keep working, be more effective in qualifying so that we can start further forward, and improve acceleration and a number of other things, which we’ve already discussed at Ducati as we try, together, to improve the GP12.”
Vittoriano Guareschi (Team Manager)
“Today we wanted to see both Nicky and Vale finish the race closer to the front, but overall, there are several positive things to take from this weekend as we continue our work and our development path for the GP12. We received confirmation that we’re very fast in the wet, and in the dry, we had a good qualifying session with Nicky, who made the first row. Nicky was very competitive in the early laps of the race, and now we must also improve over race distance with him. Vale found qualifying difficult, but in the race, using a setting that he’d never tried, he felt okay and was steadily gaining confidence and going faster. These are signs that show us the direction to follow starting with the next round in a few days in Portugal.”

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Valentino Rossi third in Spanish free practice, Nicky Hayden sixth

The Ducati Team enjoyed a good start to the Spanish MotoGP weekend in Jerez de la Frontera, with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden very fast from the beginning. Bad weather affected the day from the beginning, with morning conditions being neither completely wet nor completely dry. This made the first session useless for both Rossi and Hayden, who elected to stay in the garage.
The asphalt was wet enough in the second session to permit the use of rain tyres, and both Ducati Team riders were fast. The Italian was at the top of the time chart for some time before eventually finishing with the second-best time in FP2, behind Dani Pedrosa. His teammate finished the session a respectable fifth. In the combined times for the two sessions, Rossi and Hayden were third and sixth respectively, despite having sat out the morning.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 3rd  (1:51.440)
“We go pretty well in the wet. We’re happy to be second this afternoon because it confirms that the GP12 has the same good feeling in the wet that last year’s bike did, and that’s important. I felt good immediately today. We worked on the setting a bit but because we had already started with a good feeling, I was able to immediately ride at the limit and do some good times. Now we have to wait to see what the weather does tomorrow, and especially on Sunday.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th (1:52.254)
“It’s a shame about the weather. This morning it wasn’t really wet and wasn’t really dry. If we had unlimited rain tyres, I probably would have gone out and had a look, but with rain forecast for the whole weekend, I didn’t want to waste any. We did some laps in the afternoon and checked a couple things. It was hard to say if we made any improvements because the track dried out at the end and was almost ready for slicks. The bike felt decent in the wet, especially the geometry and turning, but it lacked some grip on the edge, which is where we’ll focus tomorrow.”

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Ducati set for Spanish spectacle

As The Ducati Team travels to Spainthis week for one of the mostpopularevents onthe world championshipcalendar, the Spanish GrandPrix in Jerez de la Frontera, theteam will be lookingtowardseight-time Jerez race winner Valentino Rossi and somepromisingpre-season testing for a successful race result.

Ducati isaiming to buildontheir test heldat Jerez earlierthisyear, where Rossi andHayden finishedsixth and eighthrespectively on the revamped 1000cc Desmosedici.The Italianwill be drawing on the knowledge he hasgained from the populartrackover the years, onwhich he is the mostsuccessful rider of all time with a total ofeightvictories in hisgrandprix career, includingsix in the premier class.


With this record in mind, Rossi islooking to make a positive start to the weekendand to carrythatmomentuminto the race: “I’vealwaysliked the Jerez track a lot,and wecertainly must try to do betterthan in Qatar. By the end of the three-day testin March, wehadfound a decent setup for the GP12, so wehave a base to start fromfor thistrackaswepreparethe bike for the race. Itwill be veryimportant to workwellduring the Friday and Saturdaypractice sessions, focusingparticularly onmaintaining a gooddirection and ontakingadvantage of whatwecurrentlyhave towork with.”

Nicky Hayden, whofinished on the podiumat the track last time out islooking tobuild on hissixthplacefinish in Qatar, and isexcitedabout the challenges andatmosphere the trackprovides: “I reallyenjoy the Jerez GP. In some ways it’slike thefirst race all over again, becauseit’s a little bit differentthan Qatar. We’re back inEurope, with ourtrucks and all the crowds. It’salso a special track. It’sreallytough,with veryfewstraightaways, soyouhave to ‘connect the dots’ and do some hardbraking. Ifyouwant to do a goodlap time, it’simportantto be fast in those last tworight-handers. I’mlookingforward to it.”

Nicky Hayden´screwchief Juan Martinez alsorevealswhythinkingaheadisvitalatthe curvyAndaluciantrack: “Jerez hasquite special conditionsbecause the gapbetweenone corner and the nextdoesn´tgive the rider much of a chance to reallyrecoverphysically. They are quiteclosetogether, so whenyou are approachingonecorner youalreadyhave to thinkabout the nextone. For thisreasonit´sveryimportant to thinkforwardsifyou are to be fast enoughacross a wholelap.”

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