The Marlboro Ducati team of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden are still struggling to find the pace in Qatar, as they placed down the timesheets in free practice for Sunday’s season opener at the Losail circuit.
Valentino Rossi did make some changes to his GP11 machine, and even though his pace improved slightly, his finishing position is still not quite what the Italian would have wanted. After finishing in 8th of the timesheets, the ex-world champion said “Today was a bit difficult, because we had hoped to make a bigger improvement, but in the end we didn't' lower our time enough.”
Rossi is still feeling the effects of his shoulder injury. “First of all, my shoulder bothered me a little. I wasn't as strong as I was yesterday, and in the end of the session, I could feel it. Also, we still don't know this bike perfectly and, as happened to us in the test, we get to a point where it's difficult to make a step forward with the setup. It's partly a matter of experience. We're trying to work with the weight distribution, especially on the rear, but we still haven't found the right balance. We're missing half a second with our pace to be in the group where we hope to be Sunday. Anyway, today we tried two setup solutions that were quite different, and we chose one that we'll try to refine tomorrow.”
Nicky Hayden had an equally frustrating day, with the Kentucky Kid way off the pace in 14th.
“Things didn't really go a lot better today.” he said
“My position is worse than yesterday, and my lap time is hardly any better. I'm still having trouble with the bike in the long corners, but honestly, a rider should be able to find a bit more time than I have. After two days of testing and the practice sessions, my time isn't that much better than it was in the test. It's a bit frustrating to be so far back for the first race, but the team and I will try to figure it out. My guys are working hard and everybody's pitching in. Qualifying could be difficult because the soft tyre doesn't really seem to help my lap time a lot. Hopefully we can find a setup change or something that will help.”