The Ducati Marlboro Team concluded the second Malaysian test with the knowledge that important work awaits them over the two weeks before the next outing, in Qatar. After a positive start, the progress was slower than what the team had hoped for, with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden finishing the third day 11th and 12th, respectively.
The Italian rider lost an entire day of testing, as he spent Wednesday in bed with a bad flu. Today he was back aboard the GP11, but despite hard work with his crew and lowering his best time compared to Tuesday, the necessary margin of improvement is still significant.
Nicky Hayden had similar difficulty making steps forward, despite his feeling with the bike improving steadily over the three days.
Next the team will meet with its fans on March 4 in Bologna. After that, the riders will be back on track on March 13 and 14 at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit for the final winter test, prior to the MotoGP season opener at the same venue.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team), 11th, 2:01.469 (59 laps): “We can’t be satisfied with this test because we didn’t reach our goals, which were to finish close to the top six and especially to reduce the gap to the front. Instead, we’re 1.8 seconds back, and our rhythm is also lacking. After the first day, we thought we could do it. We had started well and were able to make the bike work with the hard tyres, which is good. After that though, we didn’t take steps forward. Although we have some good ideas for the electronics that I’m optimistic will solve those problems relatively easily, I’m not as confident about the chassis setup. We tried hard, but we haven’t yet managed it. I’m able to brake hard, but I’m still having trouble in mid-corner. It was definitely a disadvantage to only ride two days instead of three because we had to rush at the end and try many things in order to understand as much as we could. We were prepared for that possibility, but it started to drizzle, making it impossible to push. There could be some good solutions for the future, but we weren’t able to confirm them. This circuit hasn’t traditionally been favorable to the Ducati. The next test is in Qatar, where the track is different, so we’ll see if we can go faster there.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team), 12th, 2:01.469 (71 laps): “We’ve tested a lot of options over the course of this test, like different geometry and electronics. We’ve just been trying to improve the feeling and eliminate stuff that didn’t work, focusing mainly on finding a base setup that could work for this season. We’re still behind, not because of any major problem, but a combination of little details that prevented us from getting the results that we’d hoped for. I’ve got a good bike and team, and we definitely need to do better than this. We’ve got a lot more work to do, but we’ve made progress this week, and we’ve still got some options we can try at the next test. It’s going to be a competitive season, no doubt. A lot of guys are going fast and pushing hard. We’ll have to work hard to try to take full advantage of this bike’s potential. It’s been three long days, and our team—everybody from engineers to mechanics to tire guys to suspension guys—has worked really hard the whole time.”