Valentino Rossi was delighted to confirm Ducati's recent step forward with a strong ride to sixth place in today's Czech Grand Prix. The Italian felt the team had made a breakthrough with the set-up of the GP11.1 after qualifying sixth and backed it up by matching that performance in the race.
“I'd say we can be pretty pleased, as we took a step forward. I must say that Filippo and Ducati has been intelligent, because just with some small changes, we were able to get a good result, improving in both wet and dry conditions and in both qualifying and the race. Now I'm able to ride the bike better under braking and on corner entry, and I can use the front tyre better.”
The greatest encouragement came through the fact that Rossi was able to match the lap times of the factory Yamaha machines for the first time since Catalunya in June. The former world champion even felt he could have beaten them had he not lost ground early on.
“We started with the goal of fighting with the group ahead of us, but unfortunately we made a small mistake with the start procedure for heating the tyres and the first two laps were difficult, without enough grip. It's a lesson that we'll remember next time. I didn't have a great start like I did at Laguna, for example. That would have helped a lot, because from the third lap to the finish, I had the same pace as the two Yamahas, and even 'Sic' wasn't so far ahead. It's sixth place, but it's a sixth place that's much more important than our other results. The gap is much smaller, although I backed off in the final laps since there was nothing else I could do. Otherwise, I would've been just ten seconds from Stoner and much less than that from the podium.”
Ducati will take part in tomorrow's post-race test and Rossi has revealed that the team will be trying out the 800cc machine as they search for even more pace.
“Now we must focus and take another step. We'll try the 800 tomorrow, and it will be a very important test for confirming other new details and for continuing work on the setup. We'll probably take a couple of final runs with the GP11, but we'll definitely be continuing with the GP11.1. Finally, I'd like to compliment 'Sic' for a podium that he really deserved, for today's race but also for what he has shown this season.”
Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi felt this weekend had been the team's “most productive of the season” and looks forward to making further progress in Monday's test.
“It was a positive weekend for our team. We made progress with Valentino session by session, and with Nicky we solved enough of the difficulties from Friday that he was nearly four seconds faster than last year. Compared to Laguna Seca, Valentino reduced his pace and his final gap to the front, and he was closer to the lead group. His feeling with the front of the GP11.1 was also better thanks to some details that we changed. We can say that, overall, it was the most productive race weekend of the season. Tomorrow we'll have an important test day because we'll try some more small details for the GP11.1 with Valentino, and Nicky will be able to try it without pressure and also to make a useful comparison with the GP11.”