At the end of a race weekend marked by challenges including thick fog, heavy rain and cancelled free-practice sessions that forced the riders do a single qualifying session, the Japanese Grand Prix finally took place in perfect weather conditions this afternoon. Unfortunately, the dry track wasn’t helpful to the Ducati Team, with Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso unable to capitalize on their decent grid positions in the race.
The American had lined up on the front row, but he suffered a problem on the start and was quickly shuttled back through the pack, soon settling in behind Dovizioso, who had left from row 2. The teammates stayed in close formation for almost the entire race, and the Italian appeared to have ninth place sewn up until the final lap until he went long near the end of the last lap, enabling Hayden to slip by. Dovizioso recovered to round out the top ten.
This taxing overseas tripleheader now complete, the teams return home for a well-deserved weekend off before heading to Spain for the season finale, in Valencia on 10 November.
Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 9th
“We knew it would be a different story today in the dry, and already in the morning session, it was clear we were further back than yesterday. I don’t know what happened on the start, but the bike didn’t accelerate; it looks like it may have been something with the clutch. That’s a shame because all the work from yesterday was gone by the time I got to Turn 1. The race was very difficult because we struggled a lot with edge grip, but I went faster as the race went on. I knew it would be a big job to beat Dovi here, because this is a great track for him. He was really strong in some places and made it tough, but I was barely able to beat him on the last lap.”
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 10th
“I had a good session this morning, and although I still didn’t expect to be at the front, I at least thought I’d be able to ride pretty fast, but I couldn’t manage it. Maybe I rode a bit better than at the other tracks, but anyway, we still have a big gap to the front. It’s a shame about the last lap but I had some lappers in front of me that bothered me in the final braking zone. The brakes weren’t right either, and I don’t think I was the only one to have problems. Anyway, I went a bit long at the bottom of the hill, losing a position to Nicky. I’m disappointed because I had managed to stay ahead of him for the entire race.”
Paolo Ciabatti – Ducati MotoGP Project Director
“After yesterday’s strong qualifying session, we knew that it would probably be difficult to defend our grid positions today in the race. Unfortunately, our bike still seems to have some limits on a dry track, which makes it difficult for our riders to fight for good positions, despite their hard work. Motegi was an unusual weekend, also because Vittoriano Guareschi informed us of his desire to leave the team at season’s end in order to take on a new professional challenge in this championship. Vittoriano was with us for 13 years and he helped Ducati with the entire development of the Desmosedici project, first as a test rider and then as our team manager, so he has represented an important part of Ducati’s history in MotoGP. Obviously, we’re disappointed, but from the bottom of our hearts, we wish him every success in his new adventure.”