Last weekend’s eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at the Sachsenring saw Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi record his best dry result yet this season in sixth, with teammate Nicky Hayden narrowly edged into tenth.
Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi was pleased with the team’s performance, in particular the ability to fight competitively with the other factory brands:“We had an interesting race with both riders and had a good rhythm during the race. The gap between the second group was not big and unfortunately Nicky and Vale didn’t start very well and the gap [to the front] after two laps was immediately five or six seconds. But they fought for fifth and six positions with a Yamaha and also with Bradl on the Honda. This is a good result and it’s now possible for us to understand how to improve our bike further.”
Before arriving at the Sachsenring, the Italian outfit had sighted significant trouble with excessive rear tyre wear. Yet Guareschi stated that a new set-up had helped improve this: “We used two settings for Vale and Nicky that allowed them to ride at a decent pace, close to that of the Yamahas, to not stress the tyres too much and to fight for the entire race with a number of competitors.”
The Ducati Team now heads to its home race at Mugello for the third successive race in as many weekends. The Italian explained that despite not being current front-runners, local hopes will still be high: “Every year we have a big expectation because it’s the home race for us, but we know it’s very difficult because all the riders and all the machines want to win, and for us it’s an important race. We’ll approach this race with this set-up and will aim to get a good result.”
Rossi was pleased with his consistent pace, and was buoyed by the direction the team took on the weekend: “Today’s race went a little bit better. This weekend we decided to work on a setting that was similar to the one we used at Barcelona and Estoril, in order to suffer less with the rear tyre. Although we weren’t able to try it much in the dry, it turned out to be pretty effective. It allowed me to have a pace that was consistent and pretty fast until the end. The gap to the Hondas is large, but the Yamahas were closer today. I was sixth, our best result in the dry this year, so now we’ll continue in this direction. The bike is a little more difficult to ride, but at least I’m able to brake hard and to ride at a good pace until the end.”
Hayden, despite showing great pace all weekend, was understandably frustrated at loosing out at the end: “I’m really frustrated to have been in a big battle like that, only to arrive at the end of it. For the most part, I felt just as fast as the other riders in the group and even faster in places, until about the last five laps. Then I think I was hurt by the combination of the tyre going off and me trying too hard at the end. To arrive tenth, when fifth was just over a second in front, is hard for a racer to take. I can’t be too happy with that one, but we’ll get another shot in a week at Mugello.”