Assen MotoGP Insider: Ducati

June 26, 2011
Scott Mathews
Contributing Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Valentino Rossi: Were pretty satisfied with this result because compared to practice  we made a big improvement in the race. It would have been nice had we found the right direction more quickly  but this is a new bike that were still learning to work with it  so obviously it takes some experience to get it right. - Assen 2011
Valentino Rossi was happy with the GP11.1’s performance, but is still looking to improve race pace after finishing more than 30 seconds adrift of Spies.

Valentino Rossi declared his competitive debut on Ducati’s new factory GP11.1 bike as a success in Assen, but urged the Bologna factory to roll out more parts in the near future. Rossi finished fourth on the radically revamped Desmosedici, which featured a GP11 800cc motor run with a chassis, swingarm and rear suspension system designed for next year’s GP12.

Rossi scored his best result since registering his solitary Ducati podium in Le Mans last month, but he was still over half-a-minute away from Spies.

“The race was a lot better than Friday and this is so important,” Rossi said. “We are in a situation where we can see things more positive because we are a lot more optimistic for the next races. In the Warm-up we tried a different setting that improved my feeling in the rear a lot and in the entry to the fast corners, especially on the left, I gained 15ks compared to Friday and I ride the bike a lot better. Under this point of view we are very happy, but unfortunately we always arrive too late with the setting because you need to work on this bike in a different way and it is a bit more complicated. We need to modify our way and we have a lot of Ducati people that know this bike very well and can help us. But the gap in the race and on a single lap is too much and we still need to work.”

Valentino Rossi in Thursday Free Practice 1 where he placed second - 2011 Assen TT
Valentino Rossi: “My soft tire worked well and if I had another six or seven laps I could have arrived at [Andrea] Dovizioso.”

Rossi is still struggling to generate heat in the hard front Bridgestone tire with his current set-up and cold conditions helped him, as he had no choice but to race with the softer compound option.

“I had some pushing in the beginning,” said Rossi. “With less fuel my tire worked well, so exactly for this reason it was the right choice because we don’t put temperature on the hard front. If we can put temperature on the hard we can go faster because the hard is for sure better with performance. But my soft tire worked well and if I had another six or seven laps I could have arrived at Dovizioso.”

Rossi also reflected on another tough day for close pal and compatriot, Simoncelli.

“First I am very sad for him because he is my friend and now he is in a difficult condition,” Rossi said. “This was a normal mistake in the race. It can happen with the cold tires, but he needs to understand the way to fix this problem.”

Rossi’s Ducati teammate, Nicky Hayden, did his best in Assen to hide any frustration he may have at not getting hold of Ducati’s new MotoGP machine until the end of next month. Rossi debuted a completely new machine, with the Bologna factory pulling out all the stops to try and slash Honda’s current advantage in MotoGP. The GP11.1 features a new

Nicky Hayden: The first lap or two  the tyres heated up and I felt really good. Then I made a couple of early mistakes. I touched a white line and also pushed the front once and had to go straight at the chicane. Colin passed me  and then I managed to drag him back. I cant celebrate fifth place too much  but its my best dry result of the year and puts us fifth in the points. - Assen 2011
Nicky Hayden has been told he will have to wait until his home race at Laguna Seca for the GP11.1.

engine and completely revamped rear end, but Hayden has been told he won’t get it until his home race at Laguna Seca at the end of July. The rear of Rossi’s bike includes a new inverted swingarm and chassis and has been extensively tested on Ducati’s new 2012 1000cc GP12 machine.
Ducati only made the decision to roll out the new bike for Rossi last Thursday after he tested the GP12 again in Mugello. The GP11.1 also features a new seamless shift gearbox to match the system used by Honda on its factory RC212V machine this season. Hayden has to wait another three races before he can try the GP11.1, though he received an updated carbon fiber chassis for the Dutch Grand Prix.

“It wasn’t an option for me just yet,” said Hayden. “I’ve got to wait a little bit longer, but I’m happy to be at least getting it soon. Obviously it is more difficult for me because I’ve already used one extra engine. It is just the way it is sometimes, and hopefully it will be worth the wait when I do get it.”