Valentino Rossi declared himself satisfied with his first dry weather top-six finish of 2012 in the German Grand Prix, but the Italian was still almost a second a lap slower than race winner Dani Pedrosa. Rossi was content to sit in 10th at the back of a large battle involving Stefan Bradl, Hector Barbera and team-mate Nicky Hayden for much of the race before mounting a late attack into the top six. He passed Hayden and Barbera and was lining up a last lap move on Bradl for fifth but couldn’t attack because yellow flags were being waved after Casey Stoner’s costly late blunder.
Rossi, who was 28 seconds adrift of Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda, said: “This was the best result of this year on a dry track so at the end it was not so bad. I was in the group and I didn’t have the pace to go alone so I decided to stay behind because always there was a big fight, especially with Barbera but at the end I tried some overtakes. I had saved some tire to use, but unfortunately on the last corner I was attacking Bradl but there was the yellow flag for the crash of Stoner, so I have to slow down. If not, maybe I can overtake.”
Rossi’s result was largely down to a change in the set-up of his factory Ducati GP12 to prolong rear tire life, which has been a major weakness of this year’s Desmosedici. The 33-year-old reverted back to a set-up used prior to Silverstone and Assen.
“We made an important step with the setting because at the last two races we used a different setting but we finished the rear tire after three laps. At Silverstone and Assen my performance was very bad because after three or four laps I did not have any rear grip. It was difficult to stop the bike and I slide very much. The story is that we arrived to this set-up in Portugal and with this set-up I did my best races but we wanted to make it better. So Ducati tried to understand and give to us this different setting that Nicky uses and Nicky likes. I have tried to use it but after three laps the rear tire is finished. We decided to go back and this setting I can go faster but more important stay constant until the end of the race. Unfortunately the distance to the Hondas is huge because in the last two races the Hondas did a great step.”
Rossi hopes to test a new engine at Mugello that is expected to help prolong the life of the Ducati’s rear tire.
Rossi Pins Hopes on Mugello Test
Rossi is hoping a crucial test immediately after his forthcoming home race in Mugello will deliver the progress and improvements he wants to be convinced his future lies with Ducati. The Italian held talks with Ducati technical boss Filippo Preziosi after last weekend’s Dutch TT at Assen, where the 33-year-old was critical of a lack of development direction adopted by the engineering staff in Bologna.
The talks with Preziosi have given Rossi more reason for optimism at a time when Ducati is desperately trying to deliver him a competitive Desmosedici to convince him to sign a new deal. The nine-time world champion has been the subject of intense speculation linking him with Honda and Yamaha in 2013 and many people a second successive frustrating season with Ducati will see him quit.
But revealed during German GP weekend: “I spoke more deeply and Ducati has some ideas and not just for the engine but also to improve the chassis and the reliability of the bike. Something will arrive before Laguna at the test in Mugello and something else after the break in August. It looks like we have a plan for the future and the second part of the season. I hope we can improve. I am more comfortable and the situation is quite easy to see. I am never fast enough with this bike except in the wet. So we have to try to fix this and improve our performance. Until now we have not been able to make any improvement but we have a plan. The Mugello test is quite important to understand if it is the right way to follow.”
Rossi is due to debut a revised GP12 engine in Laguna Seca later this month, which is designed to tame Ducati’s aggressive power delivery and prolong rear tire life. He said he wasn’t sure whether the motor would be available to test in Mugello.
Speculation abounds as to whether Rossi will remain with Ducati for 2013 or try to move to another factory team.
“I don’t know if the engine is ready for the Mugello test. With the chassis it will not be a modification but some parts with a different shape and weight distribution and it is the first step to understand the way to follow next year and if it is the right way to improve the bad feeling that I have,” said Rossi.
The Italian superstar also spoke about the major rear tire issue he experienced in Assen last weekend that forced him to pit for new Bridgestone rubber while he was battling for a top five. Rossi suffered a severe chunking issue with his rear tire, as did Ben Spies and Ducati management were locked in a meeting with Bridgestone technical staff earlier at Sachsenring to find out the results of exhaustive analysis that took place in Japan.
Rossi said: “The tire didn’t have any particular problem or something wrong in the tire. For some reason the temperature inside my tire was too high and this is why I lost some part of the rubber. Bridgestone are speaking more deeply with Ducati to try and understand especially the difference with Nicky (Hayden). During the race I spun less than Nicky and usually this creates more temperature, so it is not because of that. With my tire the problem came from inside. Maybe we will have something more precise after the meeting between Bridgestone and Ducati. I have two or three different things in my set-up so maybe that is the problem because it doesn’t come from the spinning. We have to try and avoid the problem in the future and the different setting we will try tomorrow perhaps will help for the rear grip. If Bridgestone say it was not a problem with the tire I have to trust them. Maybe it is a combination of some big stress with the 1000 and higher temperature and maybe something different in my setting. It can happen, so we have to understand why.”