Aragon MotoGP Insider: Ducati

September 20, 2011
Scott Mathews
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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 - 2011 Aragon MotoGP
After poor results at the Aragon GP with his new aluminum chassis, Valentino Rossi has announced he’s out of ideas on how to improve the Ducati’s performance.

Ducati’s Valentino Rossi admitted he is starting to run out of ideas of how to transform Ducati’s fortunes after he slumped to a bitterly disappointing 10th place at the Motorland Aragon track. The Italian was hoping a new aluminum frame rushed out for the Aragon weekend would help give him the confident front-end feeling he so desperately craves. But the new frame was hardly any better than its carbon fiber predecessor, as Rossi spent the majority of the race locked in a close battle with British rookie Cal Crutchlow and Hiroshi Aoyama.

Rossi had to start the race from pit lane, 10 seconds after the race had commenced since he went over his six-engine allowance for the season. That was the least of his worries though, and while he recovered to the top-10, his lap times would not have been good enough to fight inside the top-six had he started on the grid.

“I’m not sure what the real problem is. It is maybe a problem to match me and the bike and I’m not sure if this new chassis improves it, or if it really is a problem of the material. It is very difficult to say. Unfortunately, I am not an engineer and I don’t know. This answer must arrive from Ducati.”

A lack of front-end grip once again prevented Rossi from riding close to anything like his preferred style, and he added: “The feeling with the front was not so bad and I am quite good in braking and entry, but I remain slow in the change of direction.”

Valentino Rossi: I dont think its ever happened before that we couldnt do a session because the electricity was out! Joking aside  its really a shame. For us it was important to test normally instead of just having a long session tomorrow  because you still lose a quarter of an hour in total  and the type of work that you can do is different  more limited.
Valentino Rossi: “The rear grip was the main issue of the weekend. This became bigger with the race tire and from the second lap I had an amount of spin that I’ve never seen in practice. The tire was completely destroyed and I’ve never seen a Bridgestone tire like this.”

The biggest issue for Rossi in the 23-lap race though was a severe lack of rear grip.

“The rear grip was the main issue of the weekend,” Rossi said. “This became bigger with the race tire and from the second lap I had an amount of spin that I never saw in practice. It was completely destroyed and I’ve never seen a Bridgestone tire like this. But it is another thing and I don’t want to say that with a good tire I would have arrived on the podium. I thought we would have a better pace but I lost a lot in the final eight laps because of the problem with the rear tire. I have to slow down because I had a lot of vibration and it was very scary to ride the bike, but even with the right rear tire we cannot be fast like we want to be. The problem is that we work a lot and in many different ways but it looks like we don’t fix a lot. We continue to be quite slow apart from some good races, and we are not constant and we don’t fix the problem. We have to concentrate to work hard and understand the way to improve the feeling of the bike because I am not able to be as fast as I want or ride like I want.”

Meanwhile Nicky Hayden said he would not get too disheartened by yet another nightmare MotoGP race for Ducati’s factory squad at the Motorland Aragon track in Spain. The American finished in a lowly seventh place, while Rossi was only 10th in a low-key debut for Ducati’s new aluminum chassis. The 2010 Motorland Aragon race was the best of the season for Ducati, with Casey Stoner romping to victory and Hayden finishing third. But the 2006 world champion was a massive 25 seconds slower than his overall race time set 12 months ago. Hayden admitted it was frustrating to see a raft of radical new parts fail to move Ducati any closer to challenging Honda and Yamaha’s domination of the 2011 world championship.

“We’re not going to stay at home and give up,” said Hayden.

Nicky Hayden: I think I was the only guy who used the same rear tyre the whole session  and I was able to click off three 51s there at the end. I was looking forward to riding this afternoon  but unfortunately it was cancelled. I hope they get it sorted out overnight  as it wasnt good for anybody  but theres no need to dwell on it.
Hayden admitted he was surprised by Rossi’s lack of results after getting a new chassis to solve the Duc’s front-end problem.

Hayden said he expected the new aluminum frame to have given Rossi much more confidence with his Desmosedici machine. The new frame was engineered to try and solve some of Ducati’s severe front-end issues, but Rossi’s early weekend optimism quickly dwindled.

“I expected him to be faster after the comments they had,” Hayden said. “He was pretty excited when I talked to him on Thursday. Also it is hard for him coming in and trying to learn a new chassis.”

Hayden’s race was largely dictated by a rear grip issue, which also blunted compatriot Ben Spies’ pace and that of Rossi.

“It was really bad for me,” remarked Hayden. “I knew I was going to have some tire issues and after about five laps I felt a really big drop, and that is strange because lately Bridgestone has been too good. The rain on Saturday night took a lot of the rubber off the track and the cooler conditions caused it to spin too much and I used up a lot of rubber. The right side of my tire was completely destroyed. The left side I knew we’d be in trouble, but the right side we didn’t expect it. It was giving me problems on entry and I was running wide everywhere.”

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