US MotoGP: Front-end woes continue for Valentino Rossi

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Valentino Rossi admitted that an on-going front-end issue with Ducati’s factory Desmosedici prevented him from improving on a distant sixth position in the US Grand Prix yesterday.

The Italian got the better of a race long duel with Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden but he was still a massive 30-seconds behind Casey Stoner, who romped to his first win at Laguna Seca since 2007.

The nine-times world champion again pointed the finger of blame at Ducati’s lack of front-end feel, which was a complaint of Stoner’s when he raced the GP10 model last season.

Rossi has tried two different bikes in the first ten races of 2011, but both have failed to solve the issue and Rossi told MCN: “I think that we worked well during the weekend and it was a more normal weekend.

“We can start from the third row and that is not so bad. The target was to try and make a good start and fight with the top six at the beginning but I don’t have enough pace. I stay for four or five laps but after I have two or three moments with the front. The problem is that we have to improve our performance and try to go faster.

“The second group are ten seconds in front of us and to make this improvement we have different areas to work on. Something with the electronics, something about the rear grip that with the new bike is better but we lose some grip and after the problem of the front because we don’t have enough bite or enough grip from the front tyre, so it is difficult to turn.

“I have 108-points after ten races. If we are a little bit better in the second half of the season the target is maybe to arrive at 200.”

For the second race in succession, Rossi fought closely with Hayden, even though the two are riding completely different bikes. Hayden opted to race the old GP11 while Rossi continued with the updated GP11.1, which features a new swingarm, rear suspension system and seamless shift gearbox.

Rossi added: “In this weekend, also with this bike I go always like Nicky, so we improve because in Mugello, Assen and Sachsenring we struggled a lot more. Jerry (Burgess) did a good work and we have more experience now on this bike and Nicky is not slow in this track.

“The problem that makes us lose more time is on the front because the lack of the grip on the front tyre is the bigger problem. The two bikes are the same so we need to fix something for the front.”

For more from Rossi and the exclusive thoughts of Jerry Burgess, see the July 27 issue of Motorcycle News.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt