The Ducati Marlboro squad of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi arrived for the final test in Qatar hoping to close the gap between them and the flying Repsol Hondas and the Factory Yamaha team, but they will leave the final test full of disappointment ahead of the season opener next weekend at the circuit.
Nicky Hayden managed to lower his lap time from Day 1, but struggled against high winds and a sandy circuit to finish 9th on the timesheet. Speaking after the session, Hayden said, “When we got here this afternoon, I wasn't sure how much riding we were going to get to do, because the wind was really gusting. It started dying down about the time we started, though, and they did a good job of cleaning the track.”
He continued, “We tried some different options and got a little bit better, but not like we really wanted to. I did two longer runs and was able to string together some laps at a decent pace, on both hard and soft tyres. I ended the day with a crash in Turn 2, where a lot of guys have gone down this week. I just lost the front end. Anyway, that's enough testing, because this weekend it will really mean something. We know it's going to be a tough one, because everyone is pushing so hard, but we'll do our best to come in here and make a good showing.”
Valentino Rossi had it even worse. Aswell as the tricky conditions, the experienced Italian had to deal with another crash, after slipping on a painted white line he spilt his GP11 machine, giving him less time to find a breakthrough.
“I'd say that today was pretty challenging: the weather conditions were much tougher than yesterday, and I had another crash when I slipped on a white line. Fortunately, I just fell over on the groundâ€”it was nothing serious.”said Rossi.
“The real problem was that at about an hour and a half from the finish, I started to lose strength in my shoulder, and I just couldn't push anymore. It's a shame, because I had just done my best time, and I may have been able to drop it a little more from there. Instead, we didn't even mount the two soft tyres that we had. I started on a long run, but I stopped because I was losing tenths lap after lap. Let's say that we're not as far back as it looks, although we still have a lot of work to do, regarding both the bike and myself, because the shoulder is evidently not yet able to bear two such intense days of testing. Between now and Thursday, I'll do some light exercise and have it massaged, and then we'll see.”