The Ducati Team took important steps forward at the Czech Republic Grand Prix, where Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden finished sixth and seventh, respectively. The riders’ finishing positions were the same as in the previous round at Laguna Seca, but both reduced their gaps to the front considerably, the Italian by well over half.
After he and his team made steady progress with the setup of his GP11.1 for the entire weekend, Rossi had a competitive pace for most of the race, chasing the front group all the way to the finish. Working exclusively on the GP11, Hayden’s team experienced challenges throughout the weekend but persevered with a respectable performance.
Tomorrow both riders will take part in a day of testing that the Ducati Team will use to continue the work on the 800.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 6th
“I’d say we can be pretty pleased, as we took a step forward. I must say that Filippo and Ducati has been intelligent, because just with some small changes, we were able to get a good result, improving in both wet and dry conditions and in both qualifying and the race. Now I’m able to ride the bike better under braking and on corner entry, and I can use the front tyre better. We started with the goal of fighting with the group ahead of us, but unfortunately we made a small mistake with the start procedure for heating the tyres and the first two laps were difficult, without enough grip. It’s a lesson that we’ll remember next time. I didn’t have a great start like I did at Laguna, for example. That would have helped a lot, because from the third lap to the finish, I had the same pace as the two Yamahas, and even ‘Sic’ wasn’t so far ahead. It’s sixth place, but it’s a sixth place that’s much more important than our other results. The gap is much smaller, although I backed off in the final laps since there was nothing else I could do. Otherwise, I would’ve been just ten seconds from Stoner and much less than that from the podium. Now we must focus and take another step. We’ll try the 800 tomorrow, and it will be a very important test for confirming other new details and for continuing work on the setup. We’ll probably take a couple of final runs with the GP11, but we’ll definitely be continuing with the GP11.1. Finally, I’d like to compliment ‘Sic’ for a podium that he really deserved, for today’s race but also for what he has shown this season.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 7th
“It’s been a really tough weekend right from when we got the bikes out of the crates from Laguna, but we chipped away at it. The guys have worked extremely hard, and we got better and better. We even made a change after the morning warm-up that actually helped a bit, although I didn’t really understand it the first few laps, and the group was already gone. I held on and got seventh, which isn’t fantastic. Still, the gap to the front is the closest it’s been this season, which is positive. The bike was really good in a few places, but I was slow in change of direction and couldn’t get the bike to finish the corner and was spinning the tyre a lot. We also need to understand why I had the slowest top speed. It would’ve been nice to hang onto that front group a bit longer, but Colin pushed me all the way to the end. The work’s far from over for this weekend, because we’ve got a big day tomorrow. Valentino tried some new parts on the front that they seem real happy about, so hopefully I can try those tomorrow. Test days are so important, and we really need a dry day tomorrow to try to make a big step.”
Vittoriano Guareschi (Team Manager)
“It was a positive weekend for our team. We made progress with Valentino session by session, and with Nicky we solved enough of the difficulties from Friday that he was nearly four seconds faster than last year. Compared to Laguna Seca, Valentino reduced his pace and his final gap to the front, and he was closer to the lead group. His feeling with the front of the GP11.1 was also better thanks to some details that we changed. We can say that, overall, it was the most productive race weekend of the season. Tomorrow we’ll have an important test day because we’ll try some more small details for the GP11.1 with Valentino, and Nicky will be able to try it without pressure and also to make a useful comparison with the GP11.”