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Third fastest race-lap gives Ducati optimism at Silverstone


Despite the Ducati Team finishing the Hertz British Grand Prix slightly lower than it had hoped, Alessandro Cicognani, the team’s MotoGP Project Director, is drawing on the positives to take forward to the next round in Assen.

After starting from the third row, Nicky Hayden spent the first part of the race with the four-rider group that was fighting over podium positions, and although he steadily lost ground in the second half, his gap to the front was the team’s smallest in the dry so far this season. He ultimately finished seventh, while his teammate Valentino Rossi finished in ninth.

Cicognani commented on the weekend: “It’s a mixed feeling, because on the on the one hand Valentino didn’t get along with the track, apart from in the rain of course.Nicky was pretty good, because he was able to fight with the top guys for two thirds of the race, and then the tyres dropped in the last third of the race, and in the end he finished 15 seconds behind Lorenzo. So time-wise it’s not so bad.Of course this is not where we would like to be, but it’s a starting point to increase and close the gap.”

One particular plus point of the weekend was the outright pace shown by Hayden, albeit before the tyres started to degrade at too high a rate. Cicognani was particularly pleased with this: “He did the third best lap of the race equal to Dovizioso, only 0.034s off the best lap. So Nicky’s race pace is quite good, apart from the last third. And we have to start from there and see the glass as half full, and try to ride the last third as he did in the first part.”

This optimism is also reflected on his outlook for Assen: “In Assen we would like to improve, also with Valentino. It’s a track he likes, so for sure he will not face the same problems as here. We are confident that we can do well in the second group, but hope to be fighting for the podium as soon as possible.”

Hayden clearly enjoyed himself in the early stages of the race: “I got an awesome start, and the beginning of the race was great. I took some chances to hang in as long as I could, and I enjoyed it and learned some things. Then the grip went, which brought on a lot of chatter. I couldn’t accelerate or carry speed on the straightaway, and we started having a little problem with the electronics in one corner, which cost us some time. We need to figure out how to make me and the bike less hard on the rear tyre, but there were some positives.”

Valentino Rossi was clearly disappointed with his race, but is confident the next round will see a marked improvement: “From the start of the race, I wasn’t able to maintain the pace of the others. I tried to stay with them, but I struggled a lot with mid-corner chatter, and a couple of times I came close to losing control of the bike. Now we must try to understand why I was only able to ride a bit better this morning, in the warm-up, but above all we must try to be more competitive in the next race, at Assen, which is a track that I like and where we want to return to the level we had at Estoril, Le Mans, and Barcelona.”

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At Silverstone, Ducati Team reduces gap to the front in the dry


The British Grand Prix at Silverstone presented a big challenge for the Ducati Team, but it also provided some positive signs for the technicians regarding the progress made and the work still to be done.
After starting from the third row, Nicky Hayden spent the first part of the race with the four-rider group that was fighting over the podium positions, and although he steadily lost ground in the second half before finishing seventh, his gap to the front was the team’s smallest in the dry so far this season.
Valentino Rossi experienced more difficulty than his teammate, and he wasn’t able to find the same feeling that he had in the morning warm-up session, in which he had made progress.
On Saturday, both riders will star in World Ducati Week, which will take place at Misano from 21-24 June, and where they’ll count on the support and affection of tens of thousands of Ducatisti from all over the world.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 7th
“We did the sighting lap with the hard rear tyre, but with the sprinkles and dark clouds, we decided to play it safe and switch to the soft on the grid. Everybody else had it too, but we know our bike has been hard on tyres here. I got an awesome start, and the beginning of the race was great. I took some chances to hang in as long as I could, and I enjoyed it and learned some things. Then the grip went, which brought on a lot of chatter. I couldn’t accelerate or carry speed on the straightaway, and we started having a little problem with the electronics in one corner, which cost us some time. Crutchlow got me on the last lap, which is frustrating, but I had my smallest gaps to the front this year in terms of race time and best lap. We need to figure out how to make me and the bike less hard on the rear tyre, but there were some positives.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th
“It was a difficult weekend apart from the wet first session, in which we were very strong, as we had trouble in every dry session except for this morning’s warm-up. From the start of the race, I wasn’t able to maintain the pace of the others. I tried to stay with them, but I struggled a lot with mid-corner chatter, and a couple of times I came close to losing control of the bike. After some laps, the rear tyre started to slide a lot, and at the same time an exhaust broke. To be honest, that didn’t affect us so much, though it did rob some power on the straightaway. We scored a few points, but Silverstone is still the most difficult track for me. I think that the ‘true’ Ducati today was that of Nicky, who had a smaller gap to the front at the finish, more or less the level we reached in Barcelona. Now we must try to understand why I was only able to ride a bit better this morning, in the warm-up, but above all we must try to be more competitive in the next race, at Assen, which is a track that I like and where we want to return to the level we had at Estoril, Le Mans, and Barcelona.”
Vittoriano Guareschi, Team Manager
“I think that there were some positive aspects to today’s race. Nicky rode at the top riders’ pace for a while and he posted the third-best lap time overall, 34 thousandths off of Lorenzo’s best. He lost ground to the others in the latter stages, similar to what happened to Valentino in Barcelona two weeks ago, so by studying the information we collected with both of them, we’ll try to understand how to improve our performance over race distance. Valentino had more trouble, but nonetheless, he was very fast in the wet, which wasn’t the case last year in the same conditions. Of course this isn’t enough, and we must manage to give both of our riders the conditions they need to be consistently effective in normal conditions. We’ll continue to work toward that goal, step by step.”

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Hayden seventh, Rossi tenth in Silverstone qualifying


Qualifying practice for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone was marked by cold temperatures, strong gusts of wind and, in the final minutes, a rain shower.
The challenging session saw Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi finish in seventh and tenth places, respectively, after both riders fell in separate incidents at a spot that is made particularly treacherous by a slight depression in the track.
Valentino Rossi had just started his session when he fell, whereas Hayden was in the process of completing a lap that had him on pace for the provisional pole.
The rain that began falling ten minutes from the end prevented both riders from improving their times late in the session.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 7th (2:04.162)
“Qualifying was going pretty well for a while, as I was closer to the front and the bike felt good. I put in a new soft tyre and went out for my first real qualifying run, and most of the lap felt really good. Then coming over that crest in the last section, I lost the front without much warning. I don’t really have an excuse. I was in there hot, but it felt good when I first got on the brakes. Crashing is part of motorcycle racing, but I just wish I could have finished that lap. It’s a bit strange that Valentino and I did the exact same crash, but maybe we can understand something from the data. Considering that I crashed out so early, seventh on the grid isn’t too bad, but I definitely feel we were capable of more today.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 10th (2:05.416)
“Today was pretty difficult. Shortly after qualifying started, I crashed when approaching the last chicane, a tricky part of the track where you brake hard and where there’s a small crest and a depression. The bike unweights there and you can lose the front. We struggle there because we don’t have much grip on the front, so tomorrow we’ll have to be particularly careful. Also, although I rode better today, I still don’t understand this track as I should, and in some parts I’m not as effective as I would like to be. Anyway, I did my best time with the hard tyre. I had two softs to use at the end, but of course it started raining right when it was time to put them on. We’ll see what conditions we’ll have tomorrow, and if it’s dry for the warm-up, we’ll try something to help us go a bit better.”

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Balance the key as Ducati tackles Silverstone


Only two weeks on from the Catalan GP, after which the Ducati Team underwent two tests at the Circuit de Catalunya and Motorland Aragón, the Italian outfit heads to the Hertz British Grand Prix this weekend to battle it out once more in the MotoGP™ World Championship.

Despite the series only being held twice at the track in recent history, its challenges are well documented, and Nicky Hayden’s Crew Chief Juan Martínez is very aware of what lies ahead: “Silverstone is a track where you have quite fast corners, especially the one that brings you onto the main straight. You have to work quite a bit with the stability of the bike, as you need to be able to accelerate properly, and have enough speed through the corner. After that you have some quite fast changes of direction, so the stability you needed on the last corner can make it harder for the direction change in these corners, so you have to find the right balance.”

As well as finding the right balance, the team will also have to dial the bike into the new standard-issue front tyre, which will be available as a full allocation from the British race onwards. Martínez explains: “This next race at Silverstone is going to be new for us because finally we are going to get all the new front tyres with the new construction, so this will give us the chance to work properly throughout the weekend to try and set up the bike to find the best setting for the front tyre.In the last races we have been comparing one [old tyre] to the other one. It seems like the construction is a bit softer, so you need to set up the bike a bit different, especially the front fork and the front geometry, and we hope we can find a good balance and be competitive there.”

Despite the recent tests, Martínez is adamant that the lack of Silverstone track time will still be a challenge for the team: “At this moment we don’t have so much history from there, but the first year we had a good race there with Nicky where we were fighting for the podium. The year after, last year, we were underperforming from what we were expecting and I hope that all the changes we have done at the last tests will help us be competitive.”

Hayden, who has been fourth at the track in the last two outings, is looking forward to getting back out on the British track:“It’s exciting to go to Silverstone. We’ve been there two years now, but each time it’s been a little different, with changes to the pavement or the pit complex, so it’s a little like going to a new track. With the lap being so long, you’ve really got to take advantage of any dry time you get to find a good setup, as the sessions go by really quickly. There are so many different corners, and it’s really important to dial in the electronics for all the sections. I’d say we lean on the electronics more there than at some other tracks. It’s fast and open, with high-speed corners, and I really like it.”

Valentino Rossi, who did not ride in 2010 due to injury, has even less track time, and is looking forward to getting to know the track a bit more: “I have a one-season ‘disadvantage’ at Silverstone compared to the other riders, who started a year ahead of me, so I’ll have to ride as much as possible during the practice sessions in order to understand the track well, as last year was quite difficult. During the Aragón test last week, we found some small things with the electronics and worked a bit on the settings. Now we’ll see how it works in England. We hope I’ll be able to ride well, that we’ll find a good setup and that we can stay at the same level in the dry as we were at the Barcelona GP, although our chances will be better if it rains.”

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