Rossi at a crossroads with Ducati
Valentino Rossi called it, "a difficult weekend," but perhaps the word 'disastrous' would be more fitting. Aside from his impressive performance in the wet during FP1, "the only time we were able to be fast," he admitted, the Italian rider was generally the slowest of the prototypes on track.
He managed to avoid being last in the race, thanks to a late overtake of Hector Barbera: "but I had a lot of problems, and I struggled from the first lap - Valentino continued - I had a lot of chattering on the front, especially mid-corner. It made staying with the others impossible. I even risked crashing on two occasions, at turns 1 and 15. Then I also broke an exhaust, which caused me to lose a little power, but that didn't really change much."
You couldn't find the right setup?
"During the warm-up we made a change which allowed me to ride better and easier. There was no sign of chatter, either, after I had suffered from it during qualifying."
Could your choice of a hard rear tire have made things worse?
"Absolutely not. With the soft it would have been worse, since the left side wouldn't have lasted. At least with the hard I could get past Barbera."
What is your main problem?
"Just one: we can't get enough front end grip. We don't know why, and we don't know how to resolve the problem. If we could do that, we would immediately be a lot faster."
How does it influence your riding?
"Without a lot of help from the front, we must turn the bike with the rear. But that puts tremendous stress on the tire, which begins to slide, a lot."
How do you explain finishing 21 seconds behind Hayden in the race?
"He has always been faster than me here, especially on new tires. He likes this track. He has the same problems as me under acceleration, but on corner entry he is able to be fast, while I couldn't manage that all weekend long."
What is the real performance potential of the Desmosedici? His or yours?
"At this track, his. It could happen that one rider feels better than another at a particular circuit, or that one team works better than another, but both of us were far from the leaders."
How does the performance of the bike impact your decision on a contract extension?
"It is the only thing that matters. For everything else, I could sign right now."
The MotoGP races continue to lack excitement, why is that?
"Maybe these bikes are too perfect, especially with regard to electronics, and they allow you to ride at 110% in every corner. In this situation, it's hard for the rider to make the difference. The human element is less important, and overtaking is harder."
Could a rules change help? Maybe a spec ECU in MotoGP?
"Up until a few years ago, Formula 1 was in worse shape than us, and now they have some nice races. The right rules can change things, and a spec ECU seems like a good idea."
Listen to the Italian language audio interview:
Translation by Sean Sedacca