COMEBACK RACE FOR ROSSI AND HAYDEN AT MUGELLO
Both Ducati Marlboro Team riders charged from the rear at Mugello. Valentino Rossi was left behind on the start and found himself in twelfth place at the end of lap 1, and motivated by the enthusiastic crowd, he caught the group of riders in front of him and climbed to sixth place. The Italian had a better pace in the race than he had all weekend, thanks to a setup change that his technicians made before the warm-up.
Nicky Hayden had a great launch at the start and immediately climbed to fifth place, but he went long in a corner and couldn’t stop on the dirty part of the asphalt. He went off the track and re-entered in last place. He climbed as high as tenth place after that, and although he was disappointed by the lost opportunity, he was pleased that the work done over the weekend has helped him find a good feeling with his GP11.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 6th
“We have a bike that is different in many aspects from the one we started the season with. We’re aware that it needs to undergo further development from a technical point of view, but even at this stage it has shown that it has a good margin of improvement just with setup. The weather didn’t help us at Assen, and the same was true here. We had limited time to work this weekend, so once again we made a significant setup change on Sunday morning. It was a step forward, and in the race I was able to have a better rhythm than in practice, although the improved behavior in corners was accompanied by a small loss of grip. Anyway, we think it’s a good direction to try in the future with our setup. I lost some time on the start because the clutch slipped, and I was almost last into the first turn, with a lot of ground to make up. It’s a shame because I’ve always managed to do well on the starts with the Ducati this year. Still, I’m not sure how long I would have been able to stay with Spies and Simoncelli even if I had started better. The gap on lap times was less than at Assen, which is positive, but it’s still quite large, about eight tenths. We have to keep working in order to stay with the Hondas and Yamahas. We’re all doing all we can, both us at the track and the guys at Ducati. It’s certainly a difficult situation, but to come here to Mugello and see all these flags and fans cheering always provides a big thrill and gives us motivation to return to the front.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 10th
“We used a different spring combination in the clutch, and I got probably my best start of the year. I was up to fifth in the first couple of corners, and the bike felt good. The tyres came right in and I was committed to trying to go with that front group, but I didn’t get it stopped in time going into Turn 1 on lap 2. I thought I had it saved, but the front pushed on the dirty part of the track and I had to go into the gravel. I was dead last, but my rhythm wasn’t bad as I tried to bring back some guys. It’s a shame. It’s easy to say now, but I think without that mistake, I could have done a really good race for the team and myself. The crowd was as good as I’ve ever seen it, and it was special to be here on a Ducati. We’ve got a lot of things going in the right way—a lot of support and guys working hard—and in the long run, I’ve got to believe that will pay off.”
Vittoriano Guareschi (Team Manager)
“We made a significant change to the setup of Valentino’s bike in this morning’s warm-up, and it helped us to be faster, but he didn’t have a good start in the race. There was a problem with the clutch, and he was left behind. He made a nice charge, but it took him thirteen laps to recover and get behind the group that he battled with. He had a good pace after that, close to that of Spies and Simoncelli. It was a similar story for Nicky. We found a decent setup for his bike, with the new frame, and he was fast in this morning’s warm-up. Unlike Vale, he had a good start, but starting the second lap, the bike didn’t slow enough on the brakes. He had to brake on the dirty part of the track and went into the gravel. He rejoined the race in last place, which is really a shame, because he rode well. We know it’s still not enough, and we have to keep improving the bike, but we worked well with both riders this weekend and made progress on the setup that we think will be helpful in the near future. We’ll try to verify that at the Sachsenring.