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Le Mans yields fantastic result for Ducati Team

On a weekend that looked to be spoilt by bad weather, Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi put a smile on fans’ faces with a trademark show in the wet at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, to record his and the team’s best result since joining the Italian outfit last year.

Having struggled slightly in previous races, Rossi’s podium, as well as teammate Nicky Hayden’s sixth place, were a welcome boost for the team, which will look to carry this momentum through to it’s test this week, and the following race in Catalunya in just under two week’s time.


Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi highlighted the importance of this result: “This result is very important for us, because we worked very hard this weekend.  We started with a little problem on Friday, but we improved day by day, which got us the good result with Valentino.Nicky also rode a good race with a good rhythm.”

Whilst the wet-weather pace of the Desmosedici has been proven at the French round, Guareschi is keeping his feet firmly on the ground with respect to the bike’s overall performance: “It’s important now to improve the bike in dry conditions. The path is long, but it is possible to solve the problem. We have an important test this week in Mugello. We have two days with both riders and we have some new parts to try out. This is a good opportunity to improve our bike.Filippo Preziosi [General and Technical Director] understands what the riders need and I think this is a good opportunity.”

Improvements are expected at the test, yet the Italian comments on the importance of not getting carried away with expectations: “It’s impossible to improve by one second each race, we need take it step by step. But this weekend we made a good step and we want to continue in this way.”

Rossi, who started on the third row of the grid is naturally elated by his performance: “I’m really, really happy. We knew we had a special opportunity in the wet today, so I tried to ride perfectly and not throw it away. It was a great race and a nice, fun battle with Stoner to the last lap. I enjoyed myself and I’m happy for my team and all the guys at Ducati, who are working so hard for me. Now we must continue giving our all until we’re also able to be competitive in the dry.”

Guareschi mirrored his compatriot’s thoughts: “Today Valentino was in a situation where he could ride as he’s capable of doing, and he gave us a great show.”

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Thrilling podium for Rossi at Le Mans, determined sixth place for Hayden

Valentino Rossi was a protagonist in an exciting, hard-fought race in wet conditions during the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, where he climbed from the third row of the grid to the second step of the podium. Nicky Hayden, despite an unfortunate start, worked his way up to sixth by the finish.
Having started from seventh place, the Italian advanced to third by lap three, at which point Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow joined him in a long battle. He picked up his pace around seven laps from the end, eventually setting the fastest lap of the race and closing the gap to Casey Stoner, who he overtook on the final lap. His runner-up finish behind winner Jorge Lorenzo is his best result with Ducati so far.
Hayden was among the riders who spun their tyres on the inside part of the track just after the start, but he pushed hard the entire race, eventually matching his best result of the year.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 2nd
“I’m really, really happy. We knew we had a special opportunity in the wet today, so I tried to ride perfectly and not throw it away. I started well and immediately made up some positions, and then I passed the two Yamahas to get behind Stoner. I was able to match his pace, but then my visor started to fog and I had to slow down for a couple of laps until I was able to clear it by lifting it a little. Once I could see again, I re-passed Cal and then Dovi. When I realized that I could really push hard and that it was possible to catch Stoner again, I went for it. It was a great race and a nice, fun battle with Stoner to the last lap. I enjoyed myself and I’m happy for my team and all the guys at Ducati, who are working so hard for me. Now we must continue giving our all until we’re also able to be competitive in the dry. We found a good base to work from in Portugal, and it wasn’t bad in the dry here, either, although not as good as in the wet. Now our main goal is to take another step forward and make up some more tenths.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th
“There must have been something on the inside of the track just after the start, because everybody that went on that side either crashed or almost did. My jump was really good, and then just as I was ready to go to second gear, the tyre completely broke loose and the bike started fishtailing. I got buried in the pack and couldn’t see for the first few laps. Once I got through some guys and had a clear track, my rhythm wasn’t too bad. I was bringing Bradl and Pedrosa back a bit, but when I got it down to two seconds, I almost crashed and had to try again. I got to Bradl’s wheel at the end but just couldn’t do anything. It’s frustrating because we’ve got a really good wet bike. I know we had more potential than sixth, but the start hurt me. Congratulations to the team for the podium. They certainly deserve it.”
Vittoriano Guareschi (Team Manager)
“We’re very pleased with Valentino’s podium, which is of course down to his beautiful race, although it also reflects the great job done by the team over the weekend. It’s also a thank-you to everyone back home who has worked so hard to solve our problems, which we’re overcoming little by little, although we still need to work on them some more. We’ve worked on the chassis well, and now we’ll focus on other important areas of the bike. Today Vale was in a situation where he could ride as he’s capable of doing, and he gave us a great show. It’s a shame for Nicky, who could have also fought for a better position if it weren’t for his bad start. Despite riding at a good pace, he wasn’t able to climb higher than sixth place. Anyway, Nicky showed that he, like Vale and everyone at Ducati, never gives up.”

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Le Mans characteristics should suit Ducati’s Desmosedici

Ducati Team head to this weekend’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans with a raft of positives to take from the last round at Estoril, where Valentino Rossi recorded his season-best finishin seventh.

The team has been steadily chipping away at the bike’s set-up all season, which it aims to build on at a track that has proved successful in recent Ducati history. Rossi took his first Ducati podium at the track last year, and will be looking for the same this time out, while teammate Nicky Hayden, who endured electronics issues in Estoril, is upbeat that his fortunes will turn around this weekend.


Speaking ahead of the Grand Prix, Hayden’s Crew Chief Juan Martínez discusses the layout of the track, and the challenges that his team faces in trying to find the right set-up for the riders. He commented: “Le Mans is a racetrack which does not have very long straights, so it is quite important to have very good braking stability and handling from the bike. It must be set up for the rider to be able to change direction very quickly. In Le Mans there is not much space from one corner to the next, so the machine must be good enough to approach the second part of the ‘change-of-direction’ in a good way.”

Le Mans has a reputation for not providing the best grip, which Martínez is very aware of: “Like at all racetracks the traction is going to be very important, as especially this year we have a lack of understanding how the new tyres work. At the moment we are trying to analyse the previous races to understand how to make the tyres work better.”

Yet he takes confidence from the team’s past performance at the French track: “As seen in the previous year, the Ducati has been a bike that performs well at Le Mans, so we hope with the new 1000cc we’re able to repeat the good results we have had here.”

Hayden agrees with his crew chief’s assessment of the track: “Sometimes it lacks grip somewhat, which I don’t like so much. On the other hand, it has a fair amount of hard braking, and I think some of those parts should suit our bike well. It will also be interesting to be at a different type of track compared to what we’ve seen so far this year.”

Ducati stresses that while the set-up used by Rossi in Estoril will remain the base setting for this round, there are still a few changes needed to adapt the bike for the track. Martínez explains: “Geometry wise, we have to use a completely different set-up, because in Estoril you have very fast corners like the long Parabolica that brings you on to the main straight. You don’t have those kinds of corners at Le Mans, so you need a machine that steers very well, compared to Estoril where you need a very stable machine.”

Rossi, buoyed by his seventh place last time out, is also taking confidence from the fact that his gap to Estoril race winner Casey Stoner was only 26 seconds – the closest any Ducati rider has finished to the race winner since Rossi finished seventh at Misano last year. He said: “In France, we’ll prepare for the race by working on the bike like we dids at Estoril, starting from the base setup that we’re now a bit more familiar with, and trying to continue with the settings one step at a time, in such a way that we reach Sunday at the maximum of our current potential.”

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Ducati Team heads to “stop-and-go” Le Mans circuit

Having encountered at least one day of rain during every winter test and in every race so far except for Qatar, the two Ducati Team riders hope for a weekend with stable weather conditions at Le Mans as they continue working on the setup of the GP12.

 

Friday will find Valentino Rossi back on the track where he finished on the podium last year, and with the Portuguese post-race test having been cancelled due to bad weather, he’ll start with the settings he used at Estoril race, with the goal of improving upon his seventh-place finish there.

 

Nicky Hayden also hopes to do better than in Portugal, and although he doesn’t count the French circuit among his favourites, he thinks some of its characteristics could be a good match for his Ducati.

 

VALENTINO ROSSI, Ducati Team
“It’s a shame that we lost the post-race test in Portugal because we would have continued our development work, and as we had very recent data from the race, we could have made some interesting comparisons. Still, this won’t influence us much from a technical point of view at Le Mans, as any updates would have arrived later anyway. In France, we’ll prepare for the race by working on the bike like we did at Estoril, starting from the base setup that we’re now a bit more familiar with and trying to continue with the settings one step at a time, in such a way that we reach Sunday at the maximum of our current potential. Le Mans is another place where the weather can be challenging, particularly at this time of year, but it’s also the track where I had my best result with the Ducati last year. We’ll see how it goes, but we’d like to do a little better than we did in Portugal.”

 

NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Team
“I certainly wouldn’t say Le Mans is my favourite track on the calendar, but there are some things that I like about it. Sometimes it lacks grip somewhat, which I don’t like so much. On the other hand, it has a fair amount of hard braking, and I think some of those parts should suit our bike well. It will also be interesting to be at a different type of track compared to what we’ve seen so far this year. It’s a shame we didn’t get to test in Portugal because it certainly would have been nice to try a few things, but we’ll get to France, see what kind of weather we get, and try to get a good result.”

 

VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
“Le Mans is a bit strange, a classic stop-and-go track that’s very different from Estoril. This will give us an opportunity to check the work that we’re doing on the GP12’s setup: Valentino used it all weekend at the last GP, so we’ll continue like that in an effort to also make progress at Le Mans, where he had a really nice race last year. Though this isn’t one of Nicky’s preferred circuits, he’ll also use the experience he has gathered while using this setup on the GP12 since the start of the championship.”

 

LE MANS CIRCUIT RECORDS
Circuit Record: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2011), 1:33.617 – 160.932 Km/h (99.999 mph)
Best Pole: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2008), 1:32.647 – 162.617 Km/h (101.045 mph)
Circuit Length: 4.185 km
MotoGP Race 2012: 28 laps (117.180 km)
MotoGP Schedule 2012: 2 p.m. local time

PODIUM 2011: 1st Casey Stoner, 2nd Andrea Dovizioso, 3rd Valentino Rossi
POLE 2011: Casey Stoner (Honda), 1:33.153 – 161.733 Km/h (100.496 mph)

 

DUCATI TEAM’S BEST RESULTS AT LE MANS
2011: 3rd (Rossi)
2010: 4th (Hayden)
2009: 5th (Stoner)
2008: 15th (Melandri)
2007: 3rd (Stoner)
2006: 2nd (Capirossi)
2005: 7th (Capirossi)
2004: 8th (Bayliss)
2003: DNF

 

DUCATI TEAM – RIDER INFO

 

VALENTINO ROSSI
Bike: Ducati Team Desmosedici GP12
Race Number: 46
Age: 33 (born in Pesaro, Italy, 16 February 1979)
Residence: Tavullia (Pesaro, Italy)
Number of GPs: 261 (201 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
First GP: 1996 Malaysian GP (125cc)
Number of Wins: 105 (79 x MotoGP, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP Win: 1996 Czech Republic GP (125cc)
Poles: 59 (49 x MotoGP, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
First Pole: 1996 Czech Republic GP (125cc)
World Championships: 9 (6 x MotoGP, 1 x 500cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 125cc)

 

Rossi’s MotoGP/500cc track record at Le Mans
2011: Grid, 9th; Race, 3rd
2010: Grid, 1st; Race, 2nd
2009: Grid, 4th; Race, 16th 
2008: Grid, 4th; Race, 1st
2007: Grid, 4th; Race, 6th
2006: Grid, 7th; Race, DNF
2005: Grid, 1st; Race, 1st
2004: Grid, 4th; Race, 4th
2003: Grid, 1st; Race, 2nd
2002: Grid, 1st; Race, 1st
2001: Grid, 3rd; Race, 3rd 
2000: Grid, 10th; Race, 3rd

 

NICKY HAYDEN
Bike: Ducati Team Desmosedici GP12
Race Number: 69
Age: 30 (born in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA, 30 July 1981)
Residence: Owensboro (Kentucky, USA)
Number of GPs: 154 (154 x MotoGP)
First GP: 2003 Japanese GP (MotoGP)
Number of Wins: 3 (3 x MotoGP)
First GP Win: 2005 USA GP (MotoGP)
Poles: 5 (5 x MotoGP)
First Pole: 2005 USA GP (MotoGP)
World Championships: 1 (6 x MotoGP, 2006)

 

Hayden’s MotoGP track record Le Mans
2011: Grid, 10th; Race, 7th
2010: Grid, 5th; Race, 4th
2009: Grid, 13th; Race, 12th
2008: Grid, 6th; Race, 8th
2007: Grid, 7th; Race, DNF
2006: Grid, 10th; Race, 5th
2005: Grid, 5th; Race, 6th
2004: Grid, 7th; Race, 11th
2003: Grid, 13th; Race, 12th

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