Valentino Rossi faces wait for Ducati improvements

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Ducati has told Valentino Rossi a range of improvements for the radically revamped GP12 will not be ready in time for the start of the inaugural 1000cc MotoGP world championship in early April.

The new GP12 1000cc machine might be a vast improvement on last year’s disastrous 800cc GP11, but Rossi made it clear in Sepang today that the latest Desmosedici is far from the finished article.

The Italian finished seventh fastest on another day of rain disruption in Malaysia today with a best time of 2.02.130 leaving him 0.845s behind pacesetter Ben Spies.

Rossi could easily have finished outside of the top 10 had Honda not been forced to stop Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl from riding while HRC staff in Japan tried to diagnose the cause of an engine failure to Pedrosa’s RC213V on the opening afternoon.

With the GP12 such a new concept that requires vital track time, the weather disruptions are hurting Rossi and team-mate Nicky Hayden more than most.

But Rossi told MCN: “We have a clear programme of things to do before Qatar and we have tomorrow and three days in Jerez, so we can finish everything.  For us losing time is a bigger problem compared to Honda and Yamaha because we have to work more. 

“But what happens here is nothing that can change our season. It is just boring and a waste of time and a pity because we are here and do nothing. Today it was quite important for us to make some laps but like this it was not a good day. 

“I did 20 laps and we did a lot of things especially with the new traction control, the anti-wheelie and a different position on the bike and all the things were positive. I think our potential is a little better than my time today. It’s a pity because we need time to do some laps and complete our programme.”

Rossi though was clearly hoping for some new parts to arrive for the final test in Jerez next month or at the latest by the first race in Qatar on April 8.

Meetings today though in Malaysia with Ducati technical guru Filippo Preziosi confirmed to Rossi that updates will arrive at a later date than he’d hoped.

The 33-year-old told MCN: “Today I spoke with Filippo and unfortunately we need more time. From now until Qatar we have a programme of different stuff that we have ready but then the next new stuff will be ready after Portugal or Le Mans.

“It will be one new step of the bike and important development.  But this will be after the first three or four races.”

When asked if he wanted a further modification to Ducati’s conventional aluminium frame, the nine-times world champion added: “We also have some issues about weight distribution and something in the rear so Filippo has a clear programme from now to the summer but he needs time.

“I was hoping to have something in Jerez for the test or for the first race but unfortunately we need to wait another month.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt