No More Down Under
The Ducati Marlboro motorcycle racing team concluded the second Malaysian MotoGP looking for answers, with Valentino Rossi (VR46) and Nicky Hayden (#69) finishing the third day back in 11th and 12th out of 17.
The progress was slower than what the team had hoped for and now only have the final March 13 and 14 winter test at the Qatar Losail International Circuit, prior to the MotoGP season opener at the same racetrack.
In Sepang, the Italian rider lost an entire day of testing, as he spent Wednesday in bed with a bad flu. Rossi was back aboard the GP11 for the final day, but despite hard work with his crew and lowering his best time compared to Tuesday, the necessary margin of improvement is still significant.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati MotoGP Rider) says: "We can't be satisfied with this test because we didn't reach our goals, which were to finish close to the top six and especially to reduce the gap to the front. Instead, we're 1.8 seconds back, and our rhythm is also lacking."
The American Nicky Hayden had similar difficulty making steps forward, despite that his feeling with the bike was steadily improving over the three days.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati MotoGP Rider) says: "We're still behind, not because of any major problem, but a combination of little details that prevented us from getting the results that we'd hoped for. I've got a good bike and team, and we definitely need to do better than this."
While the official MotoGP pre-season tests took place in Sepang with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, Filippo Preziosi and the development team went to Jerez de La Frontera in Spain, working with test rider, Franco Battaini, over a three-day session the find some answers.
While over-seeing the progress on the Spanish circuit, Preziosi has remained in constant contact with the team in Malaysia, coordinating the work of the engineers to enhance the development program of the Desmosedici.
A Ducati spokesperson sent comments to Ultimate MotorCycling: "We have also continued to work on the chassis set-up, gathering data which we will return to the factory for comparison with that of Sepang. In Malaysia we have not finished in a position inline with our original target but this was also due to some back luck."
Apparently all the crew out at both race tracks and back at the Ducati Factory have been working flat out. And rightfully so as the necessary margin of improvement is still significant.
The Ducati MotoGP Team will meet with race fans on March 4 in Bologna, Italy but don't have a lot to smile about compared to Honda and Yamaha at this early point in the season.
Onlookers wonder if the Italian goat (greatest-of-all-time) can develop the bike as needed, while others continue to show their support for Hayden who has struggled on the Ducati platform over the last few years.