News 25 Jul 2011

Rossi and Hayden battle it out for Ducati Team at Laguna Seca

Rossi and Hayden were in an all-Ducati battle at Laguna Seca.

Rossi and Hayden were in an all-Ducati battle at Laguna Seca.

Valentino Rossi finished in sixth place at Laguna Seca, one spot ahead of his teammate Nicky Hayden. The two Ducati Team riders lapped at a good pace, even if it wasn’t quite enough to stay with the faster group.

The team worked very hard on both the GP11 and the GP11.1, and they’ll continue the development of the 800cc bikes during the next round at Brno, in the Czech Republic, which will follow a short two-week break.

“We worked well this weekend. We started from a better position than we have in recent races, and I got a good launch on the start and tried to stay with the leaders,” Rossi said. “I did a lap in the mid-’22s, but then I closed the front twice in a row on the bumps in Turn 5 and nearly crashed.

“I still had a tough race after that, because Nicky stayed glued to me and didn’t give me a chance to breathe. We obviously don’t want to be fighting for sixth place, but we’re having some problems at the moment and we have to try and do our best with what we have.

“We’re losing too much on corner entry, where I’m very slow because I don’t have enough feeling, but Ducati is working and we must stay focused and positive, making progress step by step. In the short term, we have to make up those missing tenths in order to stay with the group with Spies, Sic and Dovizioso. Then we’ll think about the others.”

Hayden wasn’t thrilled with seventh, but he did enjoy the battle against Ross at home.

“I’ve won this race before, so I’m not going to jump up and down celebrating seventh place,” he said. “We knew it was going to be tough, and crashing in qualifying didn’t help. I got a decent start, but I didn’t get to go with that second group like I had hoped.

“It was kind of like the Sachsenring – a good battle with Valentino, but thirty seconds behind the front. Vale was no faster than me, but he’s a racer, he doesn’t make mistakes and give you anything. A couple of times I thought I might be able to go up the inside, but I’m not just going to close my eyes and knock us both down trying for sixth place.

“People who think he’s not trying are crazy. I saw his right foot come off the peg a couple of times when he almost went down. We’ll take two weeks off, regroup and go to Brno. Now is no time to be negative. I believe in my team and Ducati, and I really think we’re still going to have a good season.”