Valentino Rossi was garnering much attention due to his debut on the updated Ducati GP11.1 at Assen MotoGP this past weekend.
During a wet FP1, the Italian Nine-Time World Champion was second fastest, 0.306 of a second behind eventual pole-sitter Marco Simoncelli on the San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V. Later that afternoon, Thursday’s FP2 was canceled due to wet conditions and oil spilled on the track from Moto2.
When the extended FP2 MotoGP session began on Friday, Rossi was fifth fastest. But when things were looking somewhat positive, Valentino Rossi and the Ducati team couldn’t get it together for qualifying due to only having about two hours to find a dry setup; Rossi would qualify 11th.
But when the MotoGP race got underway on Saturday, Rossi quickly throttled to fifth, and a battle ensued between him and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow. But Crutchlow would pull into the MotoGP pits on the 15th lap due to mechanical issues, and Rossi would be unchallenged for the remainder of the race, finishing fourth in the event where Ben Spies took his maiden victory. Rossi’s teammate, Nicky Hayden, finished fifth.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “We’re pretty satisfied with this result because compared to practice, we made a big improvement in the race. It would have been nice had we found the right direction more quickly, but this is a new bike that we’re still learning to work with, so obviously it takes some experience to get it right.
“In the end, we managed to find a setup that allowed me to ride pretty well but, not having tried it before, I approached the first laps very carefully. To be honest, we were also a little unlucky, because the rain during the warm-up prevented us from trying the changes.
“Anyway, the weekend was positive overall, because we got confirmation that this bike is better in many ways, especially with regard to the rear end, which is now much more stable. On the other hand, we also know that we must keep working because we still have a gap to the competition to make up. It’s not as big as the time we lost today in terms of seconds, but it’s still there. Still, we’re all trying really hard, and we must continue to do so.”