Assen MotoGP: Valentino Rossi falters on new Ducati

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Valentino Rossi could only qualify Ducati’s radically revamped factory MotoGP contender in a disappointing 11th position at the Assen circuit in Holland today.

Riding the updated GP11.1 in dry conditions for the first time, the Italian was woefully off the fastest pace and only fourth fastest Ducati rider at the Circuit van Drenthe.

Rossi’s new bike features a redesigned rear end with new swingarm, subframe and suspension unit.

But Rossi could only set a best time of 1.36.564 to finish a massive 1.846s behind compatriot Marco Simoncelli in pole position.

Rookie Karel Abraham impressed again to finish highest Ducati qualifier in seventh, while Rossi was also beaten by team-mate Nicky Hayden and Randy de Puniet.

The nine-times world champion was forced to reflect on another challenging day and he said: “It was difficult this afternoon, especially after yesterday when things looked good in the wet practice.

“We still have some problems with the bike and it looks like we don’t understand the way to ride at the maximum and also the way to set-up the bike for a better feeling.

“All of our problems became a lot bigger because today like in Silverstone in the cold conditions we could not get enough temperature in the tyres and they remained under the range of maximum grip.  

“I tried the softer front tyre to improve my lap time because with the hard I didn’t have enough grip.  So we need to understand and work on the bike and make a bigger change from normal for tomorrow to improve the performance and position.”

With three GP11 machines in front of him on the grid, Rossi said he was regretting his decision to switch to the new bike, which is effectively next year’s GP12 machine fitted with this year’s 800cc Desmosedici motor.

He added: “I don’t think this is the answer because the problem in the front is similar to the old bike and this is the problem that gives us a disadvantage compared to the other guys. 

“We didn’t expect this because when I tried this bike in the test in Mugello I was faster but that’s with the 1000 motor.  I think this bike is a good decision because we can work for the future.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt