The Ducati team felt there were positives to be taken from Sunday's Australian Grand Prix despite only having a seventh place to show for it. Nicky Hayden made a stunning start to take second at the first corner before dropping to sixth but a late rain shower changed everything.
Moments after seeing teammate Valentino Rossi and Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista crash out on the slippery circuit, Hayden chose to change bikes under flag-to-flag rules but the decision didn't pay off and he finished down in seventh.
“Conditions were really tough today, with wind and rain off-and-on at different parts of the track”, he commented. “My start actually wasn't amazing, but I think everybody else got away worse than I did. I was in a good position, but I really had no grip at the rear from the very beginning, and although I tried as hard as I could, I couldn't defend much when guys started coming past. Eventually I blistered the rear tyre and was just trying to make it to the finish, and then when it started to rain harder, it felt really slick. I just about lost it, and when I saw Bautista go down, I decided to come in and change bikes rather than risk doing the same. It's another seventh place, but I was closer to the front than I've been in most races. I felt good apart from a few places, like Turn 6, and the bike was fast. We'll try to base our future work on those positives.”
After starting on the fifth row, Rossi made it up to seventh and was in the process of passing Bautista for sixth when he slid out at the MG hairpin. The Italian put the accident down to Ducati's season long problem with front end grip but hopes the upcoming weekend in Sepang will see some progress.
“The crash was really a shame because I could have finished fifth. After a pretty good start, I lost some ground to Nicky and Bautista, but then I found my rhythm and managed to get them both. Unfortunately, I lost the front when I passed Alvaro, and I'm really disappointed because I didn't expect it. Evidently, despite all our hard work, we still haven't solved this problem. Anyway, both in Japan and here, we could have collected some good points, and instead we leave with none. That said, we're still working, and we'll have a number of important things to try in the next tests.”
Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi was pretty satisfied with the pace of the GP11.1 in race conditions and has reiterated that the information gathered will prove crucial in the development of their 2012 challenger.
“Just like at the Japanese Grand Prix, there are also positives to consider here in Australia, despite the fact that it was a challenging weekend. Vale struggled in the practice sessions, but he was fast in this morning's warm-up. He also found a good rhythm in the race and had climbed as high as fifth place when he fell. Nicky had his best qualifying session of the season, he started the race well and we saw him have some good battles in the early laps. We expected something more here in Australia, but we're also aware that we're working on a number of different fronts in these races, gathering information that will be useful in the future.”