Following Round 10 of the 2011 MotoGP Championship at Laguna Seca, the Ducati Team (Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden) and Rizla Suzuki Team (Alvaro Bautista) discussed the half-season progress.
Following is are reports by the Ducati Team MotoGP Project Director Alessandro Cicognani and Rizla Suzuki Team Manager Paul Denning. The two spoke with MotoGP officials following Laguna Seca MotoGP.
Here’s what they had to say on the first half of the 2011 MotoGP Championship, and then what’s expected of the second half:
Alessandro Cicognani (Ducati Team MotoGP) says: “Let’s just say that it was a difficult start, we were expecting a lot more, but we had some problems at the beginning with Valentino (Rossi) recovering from his shoulder injury and Nicky (Hayden) finding the right feeling with the bike.”
“Then we had some good results, especially the first podium in Jerez with Nicky and then the podium in Le Mans with Vale…but then we missed something in the first part of the season. Though now I think we are back on the right pace.”
“Our expectation is to improve: Day by day, race by race, we want to compete for victory and we work hard every single time to achieve this result, we just have to work, this is the only way we know.”
Paul Denning (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP) says: “Difficult. We didn’t even start the first race in Qatar because Álvaro (Bautista) had a badly broken leg. His comeback in Estoril was much sooner than everyone expected, but his return to full physical fitness and full confidence on the bike has taken a long time. It was only until the ninth round at Sachsenring we saw him riding like he was in winter testing.”
“The bike is developed quite well, Suzuki has done great work with the swingarm and chassis to improve the tire warm up performance and basically the grip package. The engine is competitive, we just need to keep improving in small steps. But the rider is still a hugely important part of the performance in MotoGP. If the rider is physically hurt, or mentally not ready to go, the performance suffers.”
“Now we are happy he (Bautista) is fully back, riding hard and being aggressive. We only have one rider so all our reliance is on Álvaro to do his best. He’s a professional and wants to be in the front group fighting with the riders like Simoncelli and Lorenzo, riders he fought with in the 250cc class.”
“If we can keep improving the bike, and the rider’s confidence most importantly, we hope we can be in the front group. We still have a step to make, there is still a difference between the top six Hondas and Yamahas, it’s a step to take it there but we are here to race, do our best and see what we can achieve.”