The Catalan Grand Prix saw Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden finish fifth and eighth, respectively, on a day that had mixed conditions. The warm-up session was wet, while the race was dry except for a few raindrops thirteen laps from the end. That situation brought out the white flags, indicating that riders could change to bikes with rain setups if the conditions worsened, but they never did.
Following strong starts from the third row, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden weren’t as competitive as they had hoped. The Italian in particular seemed capable of fighting for third place in the first half of the race, but he was a bit penalized by a less-than ideal setup choice and had to settle for fifth place. He took some satisfaction from the fact that he reduced the gap to the front, and he gained some confidence that the development of the GP11 continues apace in the right direction.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 5th
“There are good and bad aspects to today’s race. On the positive side, we reduced the gap to the front, and the others in front of me weren’t so far ahead. On the other hand, I’m obviously not happy with fifth place, because our goal was to do better than that. To tell the truth, we really could have done a little better today but last night we thought of a change to try in the warm-up and the session turned out to be wet. The change worked quite well, so we found ourselves at a crossroads as to whether or not to blindly use it in the race. We tried it, and that may have been a mistake because the bike moved a lot on corner entry. It was sliding, and I didn’t have enough grip, so I was stuck for the whole race, unable to attack Dovizioso and Spies. Otherwise, I think I could have had a slightly better pace and perhaps battled with them. Anyway, we’re not too far off, and we’re working well, which we need to continue doing. The championship is long and we’re still fully focused on both the GP11 and 2012, and we have no intention of backing off.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 8th
“I thought I could do better than that. I actually got a good start and the tyres came right in, so the first couple laps I thought we might be on for a good result. We used up the tyre really quickly though, and almost immediately I was spinning a lot, especially in the long corners. We had some ideas to maybe help that, but we couldn’t try them in the morning because it was wet, and it was too much of a gamble to try in the race. The rest of the bike felt really good. When the raindrops came, you definitely had to stay on your toes. I ended up in eighth, where we qualified, which I’m not thrilled with since normally we’ve been able to move up in the races. It will be a short week, so we need to understand the data and see what we get in Silverstone.”
Filippo Preziosi (Technical Director)
“Clearly, we would have liked to have given Vale what he needed to fight for the podium, but nonetheless, I think today’s race demonstrates that we’ve taken another small step forward. We’ve reduced the gap to the front, which is very positive. It was probably possible to do even better, but we found ourselves in a situation where we only had this morning’s wet warm-up to try some changes, and they didn’t all work well in the race. Nicky wasn’t able to take full advantage of all the sessions either, but he likes the latest changes to the GP11, so we hope that soon we’ll see him back at his level from last year as we improve the bike step by step. We’re working hard on all areas of the bike, and the direction we’re following is beginning to pay off. We’re already better than we were in the winter tests, but we’re still not to the point that Valentino and Nicky deserve.”