The Ducati Team is preparing for Sunday’s Catalan Grand Prix at the wonderful Circuit de Catalunya, which hosts the second of four MotoGP races held in Spain this season.
The circuit is one of Valentino Rossi’s favorites, having served as the scene for nine of his victories, and while Nicky Hayden has only achieved one podium finish at the track, he also appreciates its fast, open layout.
In addition to working on a race setup, the riders and the Ducati Team engineers, headed by Filippo Preziosi, will try to confirm that the development work on the Desmosedici GP12 is heading in the right direction. On Monday, they’ll also take part in a post-race test.
VALENTINO ROSSI, Ducati Team
“Two Sundays ago, we got a nice result because we took advantage of the wet track, a condition in which we know we can be competitive, but we’re aware that we must continue improving in normal, dry conditions. Some of the things we tried in the Mugello test last week seemed promising. It will be interesting to try them on a different track, and with must less time to set the bike up, to see if they’re really a small step forward. The Catalunya circuit has always been one of my favorites, and although it’s hard to imagine another podium, we must still do our best to finish with the front riders.”
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Team
“Although I’ve struggled a bit at Catalunya the last few years, I do like the track, and it’s one of the calendar’s great GPs. It’s pretty wide, open and fast, and it’s really important to have good edge grip, especially in the last bit with all the long right-handers. Luckily we got some good weather in Mugello and were able to test a few things with setup, and I look forward to taking them to a race to see if we’ve really done any progress.”
VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
“First of all, I’d like to extend a thought to the people who were affected by the earthquake that struck the Emilia Romagna region, which we’re all deeply attached to, and in which Ducati and its workers are located. As for our work, we’ll continue giving our all. We’re going to Catalunya, which is a fast track with big, long corners that require good grip. It’s a good opportunity to check the work we’ve been doing. At Le Mans we confirmed that we’re competitive in the wet, but our main goal is still to reduce the gap to the front in the dry.”
Yamaha Factory Racing return to Spain this week for the second Spanish race of the 2012 MotoGP Championship. Round five will be played out at the Montmeló circuit, a stones throw from Championship leader Jorge Lorenzos home in Barcelona.
The local hero will be determined to repeat last weeks decisive victory in Le Mans in front of the Catalan crowd. Lorenzo has a strong record at the Montmeló circuit, taking second in 2009 after an intense battle with Valentino Rossi, a victory in 2010 and second in 2011. He currently leads the 2012 Championship by eight points over Casey Stoner.
Texan Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies arrives in Spain with renewed determination to put his Championship attack firmly back on track. Montmeló is a strong circuit for the American, delivering his first Factory podium last year with third behind his team mate Lorenzo. The result moved him five places up the Championship standings, a result he will be determined to repeat this weekend.
The Catalunya circuit can boast one of the longest main straights in the world. Riders Lorenzo and Spies will need bikes with optimum chassis balance and front-end feel to deal with the long radius, medium and high speed sweeping corners along with the two tight left-hand hairpins and numerous camber changes.
Now we arrive at Montmeló, with no need to fly, I love to have this race so close to my home! I remember my victories and podiums here well, not just in this class but also from my 250cc days. Its going to be a tough race because our competitors are very strong but our victory in Le Mans has given us extra confidence. We know we can be very fast and competitive so we will be focused from the first session. This is a special race for me as my home race so I want to give all the fans the best show that we can.
I really enjoy riding this track so Ive been looking forward to getting here and getting started. Its been a really challenging season so far, I really believe this weekend will see a turn around and we can get it back on track. As always Im going to give it 100% to produce the best results possible. We know the bike is competitive so well focus on finding a good base set up quickly and hope we finally have a full dry weekend for everyone!
Yamaha Returns to Spain for the 2012 MotoGP of Catalunya
Valentino Rossi was a protagonist in an exciting, hard-fought race in wet conditions during the French MotoGP at Le Mans, where he climbed from the third row of the grid to the second step of the podium. Nicky Hayden, despite an unfortunate start, worked his way up to sixth by the finish.
Having started from seventh place, the Italian advanced to third by lap three, at which point Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow joined him in a long battle.
He picked up his pace around seven laps from the end, eventually setting the fastest lap of the race and closing the gap to Casey Stoner, who he overtook on the final lap. His runner-up finish behind winner Jorge Lorenzo is his best result with Ducati so far.
Hayden was among the riders who spun their tyres on the inside part of the track just after the start, but he pushed hard the entire race, eventually matching his best result of the year.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 2nd
“I’m really, really happy. We knew we had a special opportunity in the wet today, so I tried to ride perfectly and not throw it away. I started well and immediately made up some positions, and then I passed the two Yamahas to get behind Stoner. I was able to match his pace, but then my visor started to fog and I had to slow down for a couple of laps until I was able to clear it by lifting it a little. Once I could see again, I re-passed Cal and then Dovi. When I realized that I could really push hard and that it was possible to catch Stoner again, I went for it. It was a great race and a nice, fun battle with Stoner to the last lap. I enjoyed myself and I’m happy for my team and all the guys at Ducati, who are working so hard for me. Now we must continue giving our all until we’re also able to be competitive in the dry. We found a good base to work from in Portugal, and it wasn’t bad in the dry here, either, although not as good as in the wet. Now our main goal is to take another step forward and make up some more tenths.”
Thrilling podium for Rossi at Le Mans MotoGP, Sixth place for Hayden
Yamaha factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo delivered a master class in wet racing today to take a flawless victory in the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. Starting from fourth position on the second row, the determined Mallorcan took the lead on the first lap, immediately creating a gap to the following pack.
Championship rival Casey Stoner attempted to make a small dent in the time to close Lorenzo down mid race however the race leader remained untouchable.
Lorenzo crossed the finish line almost ten seconds clear to take the full 25 points and move eight points ahead at the top of the Championship standings.
Team mate Ben Spies continues to be plagued by bad luck; having made a good start the Texan slid on the start finish line paint, dropping several places.
A subsequent issue with his race visor letting in water and reducing vision meant an unscheduled pit stop, allowing the majority of the field past and compromising his race.
Spies finished 16th and remains 11th in the standings as they go to Catalunya in two weeks time.
Position 1st – Time: 49’39.743
“It was really difficult to hold concentration today, in the dry it’s complicated but in the wet it’s even more. The race feels much longer and you have to remember where the corners are slippery every lap. If you forget one you can crash very easily. I started the race determined to be in first position from the beginning and managed to keep my concentration even when Casey was catching me. It would have been easy to push a bit more and make a mistake at that moment but I waited for a few more laps to see what happened then opened the gap again to win this fantastic race. A big thank you to my team who worked very hard in difficult conditions to make a set up that worked for me.”
Position 16th – Time: 50’55.642
“That was a rough race. We actually got off to a good start at the beginning then had a very big moment on the line, something happened because then I had quite a lot of water coming in through my helmet and couldn’t see much on the first five laps. I hoped it would get better but I couldn’t see anything and decided to come in because I need to see where I am going. I knew the race was gone by then so went back out to try and get some data and get better working with the bike in the rain. Circumstances meant it wasn’t a good day.”
Perfect Performance Puts Lorenzo Back on Top in Le Mans MotoGP
honda press release
MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) rode to a heroic fifth-place finish, despite suffering the effects of a nasty tumble during yesterday’s qualifying session.
Stoner – who announced last Thursday that he will retire from the sport at the end of this year – looked like he might challenge race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) for the lead during the mid-stages of the race.
After reducing the gap on his title rival he found he was unable to maintain his attacking pace once the track began to dry and his rear tyre overheated.
During the final laps he came under pressure from Valentino Rossi (Ducati) who was able to sneak past into second place on the final lap.
After four rounds Stoner and Lorenzo have won two races each, but today’s result moves the Spaniard back into the title lead he had held following his success in last month’s season-opening Qatar GP. Eight points now separate the pair with 14 rounds still to go.
During the early laps Pedrosa suffered from a lack of temperature in the rear tyre – an issue that also hampered Stoner – and the Spaniard decided that this was one of those races in which it would be foolish to take too many risks. His decision paid dividends when Yamaha riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso slid off in front of him, promoting him to fourth.
Moto2 World Champion Bradl had another impressive ride, scoring his best MotoGP result despite yesterday’s tumble. The German made a stunning start from 13th on the grid and spent much of the race chasing Pedrosa, then resisted pressure from Nicky Hayden (Ducati) during the later laps.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) was not able to get comfortable in the conditions and opted to settle for a finish rather than risk a crash. He brought his RCV home in tenth place.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) had an altogether tougher time on his Fireblade-powered CRT machine. He struggled with electronics issues and could only manage 14th place, a lap down on the winner.
Stoner Third, Pedrosa Fourth at Soaking 2012 Le Mans MotoGP
The session started on a slightly damp track, with most riders making a cautious start to proceedings on rain tyres. As the circuit dried the pace quickened and pole position changed hands time and again as rider after rider pushed the pace higher and higher.
Two days after announcing that he will retire at the end of this season Stoner led the way for much of the outing, twice heading the rest of the pack by more than two seconds. But with just two minutes to go Pedrosa moved ahead to claim his first pole of the year, by 0.303s.
With the track fully dry during the final stages the Spaniard came within 0.021s of matching his 2011 French GP pole time, but afterwards he admitted that it had been a difficult qualifying because it had been tricky to judge whether the track was dry or damp. Stoner’s plans to regain pole from his team-mate went awry when he was baulked on several occasions by slower riders.
Despite this afternoon’s inconsistent conditions both Repsol Honda men are confident that they are well prepared for tomorrow’s race, round four in this year’s 18-round MotoGP World Championship. Both Pedrosa and Stoner have qualified on the front row at all four races so far. Earlier today Stoner had topped free practice, despite sliding off this morning when he rode over a damp section of kerbing.
Honda’s other two RC213V riders had a more challenging time at Le Mans this afternoon, with Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) falling victim to the treacherous track. Bradl suffered a nasty highside at the Musee left-hander, while Bautista’s tumble prevented him from repeating his fine performance during free practice, which he ended in fourth place. Despite their crashes both men were able to continue on their spare machines, ending the session eighth and 13th quickest.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was second best CRT rider in 14th position, just behind Bradl.
MotoGP rider quotes
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: pole position – 1m 33.638s
“I’m not a pole man, so I’m happy to be here for the first time this season. The front row is always good and the team has done a great job with the bike. It’s been a difficult session, quite similar to Jerez, the track was drying, but we had some more drops of rain in the last five minutes. So it was key to choose the right moment to push and to not to go off-line. Let’s see what the weather does tomorrow, but we have to be ready to go fast in any conditions. The race is very long here, 28 laps, and everything can change during the race, so I hope to make a good start and to be able tokeep a good pace until the end.”
Dani Pedrosa on Pole at Le Mans MotoGP, Casey Stoner Second
Today’s qualifying session for The Monster Energy Grand Prix de France proved to be a challenging one in mixed weather conditions. Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies were faced with a wet, damp and then drying track as they fought to finally deliver fourth and sixth on the grid respectively for tomorrow’s race.
Lorenzo made a step forward from yesterday’s sessions but was unable to complete a perfect lap to get on the front row. Team mate Spies made the best of a tricky day having lost a set of the new Bridgestone tyres in yesterday’s crash which hampered the final set up of his M1 in this morning’s practice. The final grid sees four Yamaha YZR-M1s in the top six positions.
Position 4th – Time 1.34.104 – Laps 22
“I’m not happy, I wanted to be at least on the front row but it was not possible, Andrea was very fast today. I didn’t make one perfect lap, maybe three or four tenths could be improved with a perfect lap but the track conditions were very difficult today and it was very easy to crash and get injured. We are in fourth position and tomorrow I think we can fight for the podium and the victory. I will try to make a very good start.”
Position 6th – Time 1.34.669 – Laps 23
“Today was a tricky session for everybody, kind of risky. Finally the track started to come good but the guys who did the better lap times were a little bit more brave than others. With this tarmac it’s hard to see if it’s wet or dry in some places. We did the best we could and put together a decent lap to get on the second row. It was pretty hard to commit to 110% when the track is like that so the result is good.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A very weird practice and very tricky! In the beginning it was quite wet then began to dry up so it was difficult to know what to do at what time. Finally to not be on the front row is disappointing as we had a good pace yesterday. We improved a little bit but it was quite risky as some of the curbs were still quite wet.”
Difficult Conditions Deliver First and Second Row for Yamaha MotoGP