After what looked to be a disappointing race for Ducati, at home in Mugello, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden threw away the form book to claim a strong double points finish.
Starting from 12th on the grid, Rossi was left behind at the end of Lap 1. As a group of 4 riders ahead of him were all tangled in a fight for 6th, Rossi began to carve through the field, and within a few laps was at the back of the midfield pack. Making great use of some changes dialed in after the morning warm up session, Rossi set about passing everyone in the group, eventually crossing the line to a jubilant home crowd, in 6th.
“We have a bike that is different in many aspects from the one we started the season with. We're aware that it needs to undergo further development from a technical point of view, but even at this stage it has shown that it has a good margin of improvement just with setup.” started Rossi, “The weather didn't help us at Assen, and the same was true here.”
He continued, “We had limited time to work this weekend, so once again we made a significant setup change on Sunday morning. It was a step forward, and in the race I was able to have a better rhythm than in practice, although the improved behavior in corners was accompanied by a small loss of grip. I lost some time on the start because the clutch slipped, and I was almost last into the first turn, with a lot of ground to make up. It's a shame because I've always managed to do well on the starts with the Ducati this year.”
“Still, I'm not sure how long I would have been able to stay with Spies and Simoncelli even if I had started better. The gap on lap times was less than at Assen, which is positive, but it's still quite large, about eight tenths. We have to keep working in order to stay with the Hondas and Yamahas. We're all doing all we can, both us at the track and the guys at Ducati. It's certainly a difficult situation, but to come here to Mugello and see all these flags and fans cheering always provides a big thrill and gives us motivation to return to the front.” finalised Valentino
Nicky Hayden ,on the other hand, had a great start from 9th, and was one of the riders in the battling group that Rossi eventually encountered. However on Lap 2, Hayden ran wide at the first corner and found himself in the gravel. He managed to keep it upright and eventually rejoined to finish in 10th.
“We used a different spring combination in the clutch, and I got probably my best start of the year. I was up to fifth in the first couple of corners, and the bike felt good. The tyres came right in and I was committed to trying to go with that front group, but I didn't get it stopped in time going into Turn 1 on lap 2. I thought I had it saved, but the front pushed on the dirty part of the track and I had to go into the gravel. I was dead last, but my rhythm wasn't bad as I tried to bring back some guys.” said Hayden, on his mishap.
He continued, “It's a shame. It's easy to say now, but I think without that mistake, I could have done a really good race for the team and myself. The crowd was as good as I've ever seen it, and it was special to be here on a Ducati. We've got a lot of things going in the right wayâ€”a lot of support and guys working hardâ€”and in the long run, I've got to believe that will pay off.”