Valentino Rossi felt he maxed out his potential on the Ducati at Motegi, a track that exaggerated the Duc’s issues.
Valentino Rossi says he could have not ridden any faster or put in any extra effort after he ended the Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi in a lonely and distant seventh. The Italian said finishing a massive 26 seconds behind race winner Dani Pedrosa was the maximum potential his factory Ducati GP12 has, with a lack of rear grip under acceleration remaining the Desmosedici’s biggest weakness.
The stop and go nature of the Twin Ring Motegi, which is dominated by hard acceleration out of slow and low gear hairpins, only exaggerates Ducati’s issues. Rossi was losing just over a second a lap in the 24-lap race but admitted that he could not have done anything more to try and latch onto the back of an early fight involving Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso, Stefan Bradl and eventual podium finisher Alvaro Bautista.
The 33-year-old said: “I have a good pace for the race but maybe this is more bad news than good news because if you arrive seventh but you have a lot of problems it is better than when you arrive seventh but you are at the maximum of your potential. For me in this track with these conditions and with this grip, everybody gave the maximum and our maximum is this. I am constant all the race and the new chassis and swingarm improve the consistency of my speed in all the race like in Misano and Aragon. Today I did 46.9 before the last lap and it is not so bad but unfortunately the other guys are going faster. For me braking and entry we are not fantastic but in acceleration we lose a lot. The other manufacturers are able to put more horsepower on the ground without spinning and I spin a lot. I have three or four acceleration points where I lose so much. But anyway we have to remain 100% concentrated, we have three races left and we can fight also for the fifth place in the championship, also if our rivals like (Cal) Crutchlow and Bautista are faster than us. But anyway we have to give the maximum and I hope in the next three races we can do one different race where we can make a better result like in Le Mans or Misano to close the season. I gave the maximum and I pushed 100% to the last lap because it is important to remain concentrated because if not it is also dangerous.”
Rossi is hoping to grab at least one more podium finish before the season is over, but he’ll need to cut at least 0.5 seconds off his lap times to contend in the top-three.
Rossi said the performances in Aragon and Motegi had been a reality check for Ducati after the high of his best dry race result for the Bologna factory when he took second on home soil at Misano last month.
He added: “I think so but there has been a lot of races where we have taken more than 30 seconds. Also today in the second half of the race I always see Stoner at the same distance and I was a bit faster than Bradl so I can fight for something. My potential on this bike is this and we lose a lot in some points of the track. If you see all the sections we lose 0.2s in every section. This means we don’t have any particular problem. It is 0.2s in every section and at the end 0.8. I can stay constant with one pace but we need 0.5s more to fight for the podium.”
Ducati Not Surprised by Rossi’s Decision
Ducati boss Filippo Preziosi has admitted that he wasn’t surprised that Rossi rejected a multi-million dollar offer to finish his MotoGP career with the Bologna factory. Not even the weight of support of new owners Audi could help Ducati persuade Rossi to sign a new two-year deal after a disastrous stint on board a factory Desmosedici.
Having scored just three podium finishes in 31 races for Ducati, Rossi will move back to Yamaha’s factory squad in 2013 to renew his rivalry on a YZR-M1 machine with Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo. Rumors have grown of an increasingly frosty relationship between Rossi and Preziosi in 2012, with development of the finicky Desmosedici not accelerating fast enough for the nine-time world champion.
Preziosi said: “I am Ducati Corse’s General Manager and I am also a Valentino fan and I think he did a big challenge going back with Jorge. From a fan point of view I am happy for him. I know Valentino has a value for us because he is very precise in his comments but I understand he is in the last part of his career and I understand why he made his decision and I was not so surprised when he told me his decision.”
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