Valentino Rossi admitted the new aluminium chassis fitted on his factory Ducati at the Motorland Aragon today was only a small improvement after he ended a disrupted day of opening practice in eighth position.
Desperate to solve a chronic understeer issue and vague front-end feeling with the Desmosedici machine, Rossi ran a new aluminium frame this morning instead of the carbon fibre version he’s used throughout a disastrous 2011 campaign.
The chassis is not a conventional twin spar frame like the concept used by Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki, but it is an aluminium version of the current carbon fibre frame.
The Italian, who carried out a back-to-back comparison with the aluminium and carbon fibre frames this morning, set a best time of 1.51.676s to finish eighth. But while his position on the timesheets was an improvement, the gap to Dani Pedrosa in first position was still a massive 1.395s.
The aluminium frame was a marginal improvement but no magic wand fix, conceded Rossi, who first tested the new components in Mugello last week.
He told MCN: “Sincerely I don’t expect to an improvement of 0.8s to the other bikes. This is just a small improvement. The first impression was like in Mugello. We improved the agility of the bike and the change of direction where we were very slow.
"We still have a bit of understeer but the front feeling it is not so bad. It looks a small step, but we have to understand it more clearly tomorrow. We hope that tomorrow we can be closer because the difference, especially to Dani, remains huge. But we are not so far from Dovi and Simoncelli.”
Rossi’s bid to get in crucial development miles on the new frame was thwarted in bizarre fashion this afternoon.
The second MotoGP session was cancelled after a major power cut at the track and Rossi added: “Everybody is sad to lose some track time this afternoon but the problem is more for us because we have to understand better the different settings of the bike.
"This morning was not too bad and I used mainly the new bike after the first run but the big problem here is the rear grip because the tyre on the left is a bit too soft for this temperature and we struggle too much. With this lack of rear grip it is difficult to understand exactly the feeling with the front.
"The first impression was not so bad but I wanted to find a better feeling this afternoon. For sure it was nothing special this morning but the feeling was not so bad.”