In surprisingly sunny conditions in Sepang, the Ducati Marlboro pairing of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden had the chance to get to grips with the new Desmosedici GP11 for day 1 of the first winter test. For Valentino, this was his first time on track since his private test at Misano on the 26th on a 1198 Superbike to assess his damaged shoulder and the Italian struggled with his new machine. Today proved that he still has very little strength in his right shoulder after his surgery, but he did manage to complete 41 laps providing valuable data for future setups.
“Rarely have I been this happy with a twelfth place, because after the test at Misano, we were pretty pessimistic considering how bad I felt there.” said Rossi at the end of the session. “It went better here though, especially in the morning, and we were able to do 20, 25 laps at a decent speed. Although we still have a lot of work to do, but we did a lot today: we worked on the riding position, and we're starting to understand, among the many details that we can adjust on this bike, what the best solutions are.” he continued.
“The Ducati's DNA doesn’t need to be changed; we have to take advantage of the positive aspects and improve the others. Unfortunately, it became more difficult when I lost a lot of strength in the afternoon, but in the end I was able to do about fifteen more laps. Let's say that at the moment, I have quite a bit of pain and not much strength, whereas the opposite would be preferable!” He added.
Valentino concluded, “The hardest parts are the straights and on hard braking into right corners, there alone I lose about a second. Whereas the rest of the lap is okay. It will be important to be able to rest well tonight in order to regain some mobility so that I can do 30 or 40 laps tomorrow. I'll have a relaxing massage and put ice on it.”
For Nicky Hayden, today was also about learning the bike, and working on a setup to work on throughout the test, and was also working with new technical updates for evaluation.
“Obviously, being off the pace isn't how you want to start the first official test, but it's good to be back out there.” said Nicky.
“We had a lot of little things to try, including a new throttle that I liked a lot. The new anti-wheelie was working well, but this isn't really a track where you notice that a lot. We've still got a lot more parts to evaluate before we can draw many conclusions. They did a lot over the winterâ€”not just on the bikes, but they've really stepped the game up with new tools and equipment in the garage. Everyone is clearly working hard as usual. It was nice to be back on the track, and to be around the team again.” the American added. Hayden finished the day in 13th, just behind Rossi.