Nicky Hayden finished the day with a time of 1:40.090, almost one 1/2 second faster than he ran in the spring at Jerez and he did it in conditions that kept the tires from heating to optimal temps, indicating more speed might be possible. Andrea Iannone also looked impressive, posting a time that would have put him 6th on the grid in April. Meanwhile Carlos Checa, in his third time out on the all new Team Ducati Alstare Panigale has gotten within a second of the SBK pace setters. With much development still possible, this seems a great sign of the bikes potential. More importantly the fears that the Panigale might share the dreaded “lack of front end feel” that has been such a constant complaint from the GP riders, seems to not be the case. Now the winter test ban begins and the program goes back to the engineers for the time being.
The Ducati Team’s scheduled three-day off-season test at the Spanish Jerez circuit certainly wasn’t without its hurdles, but the team took them in stride and heads into MotoGP’s winter test ban with information that will be helpful as engineers do their development work on the 2013 Desmosedici.
Sunny-but-cold conditions marked the first two days, allowing Nicky Hayden to complete a full testing program on Wednesday and to post competitive lap times on Thursday, though a small crash robbed him of riding time when the track was at its best. On Friday, rain and wind made gathering much meaningful data impossible, though Nicky did a brief comparison between hard and soft rain tyres.
Unfortunately, new Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso managed to turn just three laps on day one before he was forced to the garage with a strained neck that kept him off the bike for the remainder of the test.
The Ducati Team now begins an obligatory two-month break from testing, after which they will return to action at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, where MotoGP’s first test of 2013 will take place February 5-7.
Nicky Hayden, Ducati Team
“Things didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped, but the test has been useful despite everything. On the first day, we struggled a little bit getting up to speed, but we improved somewhat yesterday. We were able to evaluate the new frame and swingarm, as well as a few new settings. Today, though, the weather hasn’t been kind to us. I did three exits in the wet, but it hasn’t been dry enough for slicks. It would have been nice to ride in the dry today, as we wanted to confirm a few things and improve our pace, but nonetheless, we got through some things and have a lot of information to work with. Thanks to the guys for all the hard work this year. Now we’ll look forward to February at Sepang.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team
“It’s a shame about the problem with my neck. It’s something I had experienced at the GP in Malaysia, where I crashed twice, and in Australia, where I crashed once, and both times I had physiotherapy treatments and anti-inflammatory medicine. It re-emerged last week two days after a crash on my motocross bike, but the same treatment worked and I felt fine when I came to Jerez for the test. Unfortunately, it happened again after just a few laps, and this time we weren’t able to resolve it with physio and anti-inflammatories. It seems that the problem is probably bigger than we had previously thought, and I’ll have to undergo some further medical tests.”
Vittoriano Guareschi, Team Manager
“Obviously, we would have preferred that things played out differently, but in such cases, you have to just make the best of the situation and gather as much good data as circumstances allow. We continued the testing program that we started at Valencia, looking for confirmation on the frame and swingarm that we tried in the latter part of the season. Unfortunately, Andrea’s fluke problem with his neck was a setback, but Nicky turned some good lap times despite the tyres being at their limit in the cool conditions. Now we need to work at the factory over the winter in order to give our riders a competitive package at the first Sepang test in February.”