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.”