Valentino Rossi got a stark reminder of how difficult it is to challenge for the podium on Ducati’s factory GP12 machine after he finished the Catalunya Grand Prix in seventh place. Rossi arrived in Barcelona on a high after claiming his career best Ducati result with second place in Le Mans last month in wet conditions. But it was back to reality in the dry for the Italian, though he did put up a strong fight for sixth place before a loss of rear grip with his soft rear Bridgestone tire curtailed his pursuit of Alvaro Bautista.
Rossi finished 17.5 seconds behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo and he later said: “We are quite happy with this result because it is what we expected. At the moment this is our potential in the dry. The distance from the winner is not a lot and especially the distance from Bautista, (Cal) Crutchlow and (Casey) Stoner was not very much, so this is our best race in the dry and better than Portugal. But it is just seventh place so we still have to work a lot and try to improve.”
Rossi cited familiar performance issues as one reason for his inability to keep pace with the front-runners at Catalunya.
Rossi confirmed the familiar complaints hindering the Ducati’s performance, saying: “The problem remains a little bit the understeer, the grip not the front. The front doesn’t turn enough to make the corner so I have to turn with the rear in oversteer and I lose the performance of the rear tire more than the others. In the beginning I had some problems with the front brake, a spongy feeling, but it came better and I was faster but when I arrive very close to Alvaro I had a big loss of performance of the rear tire and I had to slow down. At one moment I thought I could attack and fight with Bautista but there was no way, I had to finish the race.”
At one stage Rossi and Bautista were closing fast on the battle between Crutchlow, Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso for third but at no time did Rossi feel he was going to be in a position to battle for only his third Ducati rostrum.
He added: “The podium was difficult and I was only concentrating on Bautista. He was my target and after some laps I could see that Crutchlow, Dovizioso and Casey were not so far ahead but I was already happy if I could have beaten Alvaro. The other guys were difficult. I would have needed 100 laps to make the podium.”