Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden have vastly different emotions regarding the Twin Ring Motegi MotoGP circuit.
These different feelings are due to each rider’s luck at the Japanese Grand Prix, the 2011 MotoGP race postponed to Oct. 2 following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the country March 11.
Rossi has eight podiums at Motegi, including two wins, and Hayden’s best finish was fifth in 2006, the year the Kentucky Kid took the championship while competing on the Repsol Honda.
Regardless of the past at Motegi, both Ducati MotoGP riders have been anything but luck in 2011 MotoGP. Starting at practice on Friday, both Rossi and Hayden will work to refine the setup aboard the GP11.1, a machine that even the nine-time World Champion can’t fully come to grips with.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “I had a nice race last year at Motegi, despite having a painful shoulder. I had a nice duel with Lorenzo, and I finished on the podium. The Ducati won last year and has also gone well there in the past, so we’ll see if we can do any better than we have at the recent races.
“It’s true that we’re having to work very hard, but we always approach every Grand Prix with the goal of doing better. We’ll try hard this Sunday as well, working on the track with what we have available at this time, while also simultaneously focusing on the future.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “I’ve got a lot of fans in Japan, and there are a lot of people who love motorcycles. It would be nice to put on a good show for them, as they’ve certainly had a hard time this year.
“The radiation situation seems to be under control, so earthquakes are the only concern. Hopefully we can have a good race. Motegi has probably been my worst track since I’ve been with Ducati, as I’ve struggled to get turned in those hairpin corners and get out strong. I’m not expecting an easy weekend, but Ducati is really working hard to give us options and to find the best direction for the future.
“It’s great to see them putting in so much effort, and although we’re not seeing immediate results, we’re learning a lot and getting a bunch of data that’s going to be a big help in the long term.”
Regardless of the struggles of the 2011 Ducati team of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, the Twin Ring Motegi slow corners and medium straightway have been favorable towards the Italian machine in the past. Over the last six seasons, Ducati has been on the podium each race, including four wins (Casey Stoner 1, Loris Capirossi 3). Stoner also holds the circuit record of 1:47,091, which was set in 2008.
Rossi and Hayden will be on the Motegi circuit Friday for the first MotoGP practice session.