The 2011 MotoGP season has not been typical of Valentino Rossi, from the first pre-season tests up to the opening round in Qatar two weeks ago.
The Italian could hardly break the top 10 in pre-season test sessions, and struggled for a seventh-place finish at Losail International Circuit.
As Valentino Rossi continues to adapt to the Ducati Team GP11, the MotoGP series heads to the first European round, the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez. The nine-time World Champion Rossi has won at Jerez a total of seven times, including five in the MotoGP class (twice on a Honda, three times on a Yamaha).
Rossi’s record is impressive at Jerez, but the same can’t be said for Ducati. The last person to taste victory on a Ducati at Jerez was Loris Capirossi in 2006. And the only podium for the Ducati in the 800cc era came in 2009 with Casey Stoner at the controls.
Rossi struggled at the right-turn-centric Qatar, his recovering shoulder giving him issues. But the extra time off has allowed Valentino Rossi additional time to heal and build strenght in his shoulder.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati MotoGP Team GP11) says: “Qatar, with its many hard corner entries and areas where we brake to the right, was difficult for my shoulder. We’ll see if Jerez is a little easier from that point of view, although I think I’ll still have to grit my teeth for a while.
“Since Qatar, I’ve continued working out in the gym to try and increase my strength and especially my endurance, but after Spain I’ll have almost a month to recuperate more fully, following the postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix.
“From a technical point of view, Jerez doesn’t seem to have been the most favorable track for Ducati, but I’ve always liked it a lot and we’ll definitely have to try and do better than we have until now. For the moment, we’ll continue working on the setup, using everything we learned in Qatar, where we found some good solutions for the race.”
As for Valentino Rossi’s teammate, the American Nicky Hayden was last on the podium during his championship-winning year in 2006 (Repsol Honda).
Nicky Hayden (Ducati MotoGP Team GP11) says: “Jerez is a really unique race with a great track. It’s one of the highlights of the whole season, and because it’s the first European race, in some ways it almost feels like it’s the first race of the year all over again.
“It’s a track I’ve enjoyed in the past, and I definitely enjoy racing there. Round 1 in Qatar obviously didn’t go how we’d hoped, pretty much from the start of the weekend, so we need to just try and learn from that and go into Jerez and hopefully come out a lot stronger on Friday. We’ll just go back at ’em-that’s all I really know how to do.
“Hopefully we can get up closer to the sharp end and have a bit of fun. Jerez can be a really fund weekend if you’re in the mix. We don’t really have any miracle game plan or anything crazy. We’ll just go in there and try and get a good result.”
Vittoriano Guareschi (Ducati MotoGP Team Manager) says: “I can’t wait to get back to the track for the next race, and to continue working on the GP11 in order to give Vale and Nicky a bike that’s as competitive as possible. For a variety of reasons, we haven’t been able to take full advantage of the winter tests, but the Qatar race weekend allowed us to collect important data and information, and I think that the team did some great work on the setup.
“It’s true that at least with the 800s, Jerez hasn’t been particularly good to us, but both Valentino and Nicky like it a lot and we’ll go there ready to give our best.”
Valentino Rossi: MotoGP Rider Data
- Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP11
- Bike Number: 46
- Age: 32 (born in Pesaro, 16 February 1979)
- Residence: Tavullia (Pesaro, Italy)
- Number of GPs: 241 (181xMotoGP, 30x250cc, 30x125cc)
- First GP: Malaysian GP, 1996 (125cc)
- Number of Wins: 105 (79xMotoGP, 14x250cc, 12x125cc)
- First GP Win: Czech Republic GP, 1996 (125cc)
- Pole Positions: 59 (49xMotoGP, 5x250cc, 5x125cc)
- First Pole: Czech Republic GP, 1996 (125cc)
- World Titles: 9 (6xMotoGP, 1x500cc, 1x250cc, 1x125cc)
Valentino Rossi at Jerez in MotoGP
- 2010: Qualifying: 4th; Race: 3rd
- 2009: Qualifying: 4th; Race: 1st
- 2008: Qualifying: 5th; Race: 2nd
- 2007: Qualifying: 2nd; Race: 1st
- 2006: Qualifying: 9th; Race: 14th
- 2005: Qualifying: 1st; Race: 1st
- 2004: Qualifying: 1st; Race: 4th
- 2003: Qualifying: 5th; Race: 1st
- 2002: Qualifying: 1st; Race: 1st
Nicky Hayden: MotoGP Rider Data
- Age: 29 (born 30 July 1981 in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA)
- Residence: Owensboro, KY, USA
- Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP11
- Race Number: 69
- Number of GPs: 135 (135xMotoGP)
- First GP: Japanese GP, 2003 (MotoGP)
- Number of Wins: 3 (3xMotoGP)
- First GP Win: USA GP, 2005 (MotoGP)
- Pole positions: 5 (5xMotoGP)
- First Pole: USA GP, 2005 (MotoGP)
- World Titles: 1 (MotoGP, 2006)
Nicky Hayden at Jerez in MotoGP
- 2010: Qualifying: 5th; Race: 4th
- 2009: Qualifying: 16th; Race: 15th
- 2008: Qualifying: 4th; Race: 4th
- 2007: Qualifying: 11th; Race: 7th
- 2006: Qualifying: 4th; Race: 3rd
- 2005: Qualifying: 4th; Race: NC
- 2004: Qualifying: 7th; Race: 5th
- 2003: Qualifying: 19th; Race: DNF