With conditions more variable than they had been on Friday, the two Ducati Marlboro Team riders struggled more than expected to find the best setup during qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The third free-practice session, which took place on a mostly wet track, was positive for both riders, with Hayden third and Rossi fourth, while the afternoon session, which was dry but with a slightly dirty track, saw the Italian finish ninth and the American thirteenth.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th, 1:38.271
“I’m a little disappointed with my performance today because I expected to get the fifth- or sixth-best time and be on the second row; that was the target. Unfortunately, though, it was a little more difficult than expected, and I wasn’t able to ride like I could yesterday since I didn’t have as much feeling. I couldn’t fight for a position that we would have been happier with. I struggled a little with the track conditions, as I didn’t have enough grip, especially on the front, and we’re trying to understand why. For tomorrow, we have to try to improve something with the front setup in order to still have a good race. I think the best pace will be around 1:37.5, and I’d be very happy to get in the high 1:37s, but we’ll have to find something in order to do that. I’m not hoping for a wet race, because although it’s true that we might be able to have more fun, racing in the dry makes it possible to understand more. Really, both options are fine.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th, 1:38.922
“I really thought we had made some good progress yesterday, and I’m certainly not thrilled about qualifying thirteenth, especially when we were third this morning—I liked the sound of that a lot better. This morning we went out on the slicks and had a pretty decent feeling for a patchy track. In the afternoon, the track was pretty dry apart from a few patches, but it was definitely cooler and dirty, which didn’t help with the tyres. I just wasn’t able to get enough grip, especially in the front and over the bumps. I had one front tyre that we couldn’t get to come in for some reason, and between losing those laps and coming back in to change it, we lost some time there. We also made a change with the rear to try to get it to turn better, and maybe we went too far and got it a bit wrong. Anyway, that clearly wasn’t good enough, but we’ll give it our best tomorrow.”