Ducati duo eager to improve pace of GP11
17 March 2011 – The MotoGP field will be back in action at the Losail Circuit in Qatar on Thursday, with the Ducati pair of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden raring to go as the 2011 season gets underway. Both riders are fully focused on making a strong start to their respective campaign’s, but have thus far struggled with the new GP11 machine.
Rossi is still being hampered by a shoulder injury which failed to fully heal during the off-season, and has had to adapt his riding style to suit the new Desmosedici bike. However, despite his current problems, the six-times World Champion has insisted that he is fully motivated ahead of his debut with the Italian squad.
"For the first practice session in Qatar, we’ll start with the settings that we found on the last day of the test, because our final lap time notwithstanding, they weren’t bad," the Italian explained. "In fact, I think I could have gone faster if the strength hadn’t left my shoulder almost without warning before I had even tried the soft tires.
"Naturally, my shoulder isn’t the only issue: if we want to have a good race, we know that in addition to me being physically ready, we’ll have to find some solutions that will help us be faster and improve our pace. In any event, the debut with Ducati brings a lot of motivation, and Sunday will definitely be very emotional."
Nicky Hayden will be entering his third term as a Ducati rider this year, and after a difficult time throughout pre-season testing in Malaysia and Qatar, the American is eager to find a better feeling on his 2011 challenger ahead of the opening race this weekend.
"We obviously wouldn’t have minded a bit more testing, but I’m looking forward to starting another season," the 2006 Champion said. "We’ll have four days here for the race weekend, so there’s still time to check some more options. During the test, there were parts of the track where I was pretty fast, and a couple of long, fast corners where I was losing a pretty good chunk of time.
"Our focus will be to try and get the bike to steer a bit better through those spots. Hopefully as the track gets cleaned up more, it will help us a bit more than some of the others. Everyone is really tight on times, and I think that’s pretty cool. I like how competitive it is, and we know it’s going to be like that all season."