The Ducati Team of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will head to Phillip Island this weekend for the Australian Grand Prix, Round 16 of 18 in the 2011 MotoGP Championship.
The Ducati MotoGP team has some issues as the series travels to Australia, though, especially in the Rossi pits. The Italian continues to recover from a hand injury sustained during a first-lap wreck at Motegi MotoGP two weeks ago.
During that wreck, Rossi low-sided at Turn 2, landing hard on his left hand. Further evaluation showed Rossi had a hairline fracture on his finger. So far Rossi is fully on board for Phillip Island MotoGP, but will test the readiness of the hand on Friday during free practice.
But the track has been particularly kind to the Italian; Rossi has 13 podiums there, including seven victories. And the MotoGP circuit favors Ducati motorcycles; the Ducati team has finished on the podium at Phillip Island every year except 2006.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: "At Motegi, despite the outcome of the race and what the consequences of the crash turned out to be, there were a number of positive aspects. We worked well on the bike’s balance and setup, and in the end, from that point of view, we had one of the most positive weekends of the season.
"Phillip Island is another track where the Ducati has always gone well, as have I, so we hope to be able to work as well as we did in Japan. As far as my hand is concerned, the swelling is reduced, and we still have a couple of days before we go on the track. We just have to wait for Friday morning to see how it reacts."
Hayden also admires Phillip Island; the American owns the lap record there (2008), and will be celebrating his 150th Grand Prix start this weekend. Hayden has finished on the podium three times at Phillip Island, and fourth last season.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: "Phillip Island is definitely one of the highlights of the year, because everything about it is special. It’s fast, flowing and really fun to ride. The big question mark is always the weather. We can get rain, wind, cold and sun, all in the course of one race weekend.
"Casey has won a lot of races there for Ducati, and I should have been on the podium there last year, except that I left the door open for Vale to beat me. It’s a good track for me, and although I know it won’t be easy, I really hope we can do well. I’ve got Simoncelli coming for me in the points, but I’m not really thinking about that. I’d just like to try to get a good result on Sunday, when it counts."
The Ducati team of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will be on the Phillip Island circuit Friday for the first two of three practices.