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Ducati demonstrates potential in soaking Sepang

The torrential rainfall at last weekend’s Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang may have cut the race short, but yielded a great joint result for the Ducati Team, whose riders both demonstrated the bike’s potential in very difficult conditions.

 

Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi commented after the weekend: “It was certainly a strange Sunday, with conditions that we hadn’t ridden in the whole weekend. We started with the tyres as an unknown and opted for the hard rain, which in the end turned out to be a good choice. Our bike performs very well in wet conditions, and both riders took good advantage of that.”


 

It was in fact a tyre lottery for the whole grid at the start, with almost all riders on the softer option rear tyre suffering with too great a degradation and struggling immensely towards the latter part of the race. Having opted for the harder rear, the Ducati pair of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi were able to push their bikes right up until the red flags came out and halted the race for safety reasons. Hayden finished in his season-best result in fourth, while Rossi fought back from an early error to come in fifth.

 

Hayden stated after the race: “Those were really tough conditions. I got a good launch, but when [Andrea] Dovizioso got sideways in front of me, I shut off the throttle and lost positions. I was able to recover, but I lost some confidence when the rear tried to come around a couple times. I had to be really patient in the beginning, but once I got rolling, I had good rhythm. It was clearly the right decision to call the race. There was a lot of water those last couple of laps, and it was almost impossible to see, although the rear lights on the bikes helped a lot.”

 

Yet despite his good result, the American is not getting complacent and knows the team must improve:“In dry conditions, I would’ve been thrilled with fourth, but I know our potential is higher in the wet. It would’ve been amazing to give my guys a podium today, but it’s a decent result. Hopefully, it can help me come out of the difficult period and give us something to build on.”

 

Rossi, who at one point was suffering with problems with his visor, was able to come back through the grid after a costly mistake in turn seven half way through the race: “Our race wasn’t bad because I got a great start despite being so far back, on the fourth row, and then I managed to be pretty fast. I was riding with Dovizioso and [Casey] Stoner, when unfortunately I started having some problems with my visor fogging, and in those extreme conditions, with low light and a lot of water, it was very difficult. I made a mistake in Turn 7, and I was lucky not to crash because it was the same point where Dovizioso, [Ben] Spies and then [Stefan] Bradl went down. Without that mistake, I could have finished fourth because honestly, Stoner was a bit faster than I was, especially in T2. In general though, it didn’t go bad. Of course I would’ve liked to finish the full race, but there was really too much water. I think the decision to stop was correct because in these conditions, the bikes can aquaplane and you can go down in any corner.”

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Hayden fourth, Rossi fifth in Malaysian rain

Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Malaysian Grand Prix, which was marked by very wet conditions.

 

Rain had already fallen during the Moto3 race, which saw German Sandro Cortese take the win and the title, and it had an even bigger influence on the Moto2 race, which started late and ended early. But it was the MotoGP race that was most affected, with delays, crashes and eventually a premature finish. Nicky Hayden passed the chequered flag in fourth place, having lapped at a competitive pace and avoided mistakes.

 

After an excellent start from the fourth row, Valentino Rossi was fifth at the end of lap one, and until eleven laps from the end, he was involved in a fight with Dovizioso and Stoner for the third step of the podium. With the rain increasing in intensity, he ran long in turn 7, dropping to ninth place as a result. From there, he once again advanced as high as fifth place, when the red flag fell seven laps before the scheduled finish. With the rain only falling harder after that, the decision was made not to restart the race.

 

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 4th

“Those were really tough conditions. I got a good launch, but when Dovizioso got sideways in front of me, I shut off the throttle and lost positions. I was able to recover, but I lost some confidence when the rear tried to come around a couple times. I had to be really patient in the beginning, but once I got rolling, I had good rhythm. It was clearly the right decision to call the race. There was a lot of water those last couple of laps, and it was almost impossible to see, although the rear lights on the bikes helped a lot. In dry conditions, I would’ve been thrilled with fourth, but I know our potential is higher in the wet. It would’ve been amazing to give my guys a podium today, but it’s a decent result. Hopefully, it can help me come out of the difficult period and give us something to build on.”

 

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 5th

“Our race wasn’t bad because I got a great start despite being so far back, on the fourth row, and then I managed to be pretty fast. I was riding with Dovizioso and Stoner, when unfortunately I started having some problems with my visor fogging, and in those extreme conditions, with low light and a lot of water, it was very difficult. I made a mistake in turn 7, and I was lucky not to crash because it was the same point where Dovizioso, Spies and then Bradl went down. Without that mistake, I could have finished fourth because honestly, Stoner was a bit faster than I was, especially in T2. In general though, it didn’t go bad. Of course I would’ve liked to finish the full race, but there was really too much water. I think the decision to stop was correct because in these conditions, the bikes can aquaplane and you can go down in any corner.”

 

Vittoriano Guareschi, Team Manager

“It was certainly a strange Sunday, with conditions that we hadn’t ridden in the whole weekend. We started with the tyres as an unknown and opted for the hard rain, which in the end turned out to be a good choice. Both Nicky and Vale were very good because they brought home a good haul of points in an extremely difficult situation that cost many others. Our bike performs very well in wet conditions, and both riders took good advantage of that.”

 

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Rossi improves pace, Hayden makes third row

Qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix left several question marks for both Ducati Team riders, who will have to decide during tomorrow’s morning warm-up session which tyre to use in the race.

 

Nicky Hayden, ninth today, will try some changes in order to reduce the chattering that bothered him today.

 

Valentino Rossi, eleventh, managed to lap at a decent rhythm with the hard tyre in qualifying, but having missed the chance to do more than just a few consecutive laps, he’ll try again in tomorrow morning’s twenty minute session before making a final decision.

 

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 9th (2:01.526)

“It hasn’t been an easy day. In qualifying I lost some time due to a couple of issues I was having with the clutch and rear brake. Then we made a few little changes and got going better, but I had so much chatter that both of my hands are still tingling. I think a lot of guys are dealing with it, but it’s really making it difficult for me in the fast corners. I was able to do an okay lap, but the pace is really fast. I made one little mistake on what turned out to be my best lap, and that probably cost me two or three tenths. We’ve got a couple decisions to make for tomorrow, and we’ll see what we can do.”

 

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 11th (2:01.783)

“We were going pretty well at a certain point this afternoon, as I was able to do some laps with the hard tyre at a low-2:02 pace. We were pretty optimistic for the end, but when we put on the soft, it triggered a lot of chatter and I wasn’t able to improve enough to be further up the grid. Anyway, we’re not too far from Hayden, Barbera, Bautista and Bradl, so we’ll see. The warm-up will be very important for choosing the tyres. With the soft, it will certainly be necessary to slow down a lot in the second part of the race because today, it was already sliding a lot after just three or four laps. With the hard tyre, in theory we should suffer more at the beginning and then… we don’t know yet. Tomorrow we’ll try to understand. Finally, there’s the rain variable, which could shake everything up. We’ll see what time it comes.”

 

 

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Rain affects day one at Malaysian Grand Prix

The second free practice session at the Malaysian Grand Prix was affected by a typical tropical downpour that gave way to the sun just before the start. Riding on the track, which was neither completely wet nor completely dry, was rendered useless for the entire session.

 

Valentino Rossi paid the consequences, as he had intended to try some changes to the balance of his Desmosedici in order improve rear grip.

 

In the morning, Nicky Hayden had started doing some comparative tests with a swingarm with a different stiffness, which Rossi had begun using after Misano. Like his teammate, the American will work on improving grip tomorrow.

 

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 8th (2:02.754)

“With my injury last winter, I didn’t really do much meaningful riding here during testing, so it’s hard to compare the bike from then to now. The main thing we’re working on is finding more edge grip, and we made a couple of improvements there. I was almost two seconds faster than last year here during FP1, which is nice. I tried the new swingarm, which definitely gave me better feeling at the rear. Then this afternoon was really strange. As can happen at long circuits, the track was completely wet on one part and completely dry on another, during the same lap! I did two laps, just to feel the wet conditions in case that’s what we have on Sunday. Anyway, I definitely felt a little better today than I did in Motegi, both with my wrist and on the bike, so hopefully we can have a much better weekend.”

 

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 11th (2:03.274)

“We’ve been a little unfortunate with the weather in recent races. This afternoon it rained right before the session, which made it difficult to work. It’s a shame, as we had two or three things to try with the balance of the bike after we were pretty slow this morning. We had continued working with some changes that we used at Motegi, where they’d helped us to have a little more grip under acceleration. Here, though, they weren’t as effective because they cause a lot of understeer. This afternoon it was important to be able to work because we wanted to return to a more standard setup, like at Aragon and Misano. I tried riding a little in an effort to understand as much as possible, but it’s difficult in these conditions. There’s nothing we can do about it, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”

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