Rossi Learning from Hayden

Henny Ray Abrams | January 13, 2011

MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 13 – No walls will be erected between Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden this year, not physically, not virtually, unlike Rossi’s final three years at Fiat Yamaha.Rossi and then teammate Jorge Lorenzo were cut off from each other over the issue of tires in 2008; Rossi used Bridgestone, Lorenzo Michelin. But even when the MotoGP series went to spec Bridgestone tires in 2009, the wall remained. Now, with Rossi and Hayden reuniting after seven years-they were together at Repsol Honda in 2003-the pair will have an open atmosphere in the garage and among the data technicians to more quickly pace development.In his Tuesday press conference, Rossi said that he needed Hayden’s data and that they needed each other to improve the Desmosedici GP11. This was good news not only for Hayden, who has two years’ experience on the bike, but also the team, which saw from the very beginning that their riders were extremely compatible. “With Nicky, now, okay we’re going to have to – I have to look at his data,” Rossi said. “So I do hope that there is not going to be any separation, any wall between us.”But apart from this, we are going to work together so as to try to improve the bike. He has plenty of experience with the Desmosedici, so initially he can teach me many important tricks for the bike.”Sitting in the audience, Vitto Guareschi, the Ducati Marlboro team manager, was taken aback.”When Valentino [Rossi] said this, I’m surprised, because it’s a good start, it’s a very good start,” Guareschi smiled. “The atmosphere in the garage is very, very important and this is a good start. My dream is to exchange information from both the riders. With this is possible improve much faster.As for the separation from Lorenzo, Rossi pointed out that it started from 2007 to 2008 and with a bike that had “many problems.” He added, “The only thing that was changed from 2007 to 2008 was only the teammate. So I tried to safeguard myself to do my job, of course, but it was impossible. And so that separation was just virtual, but things went as they went, but it was not nice.”The atmosphere in the garage during the post-season Valencia test was the complete opposite of how it’d been in the Fiat Yamaha garage two days earlier. Rossi and Hayden had an easy familiarity with each other and Hayden wasn’t bothered by the mob of technicians surrounding Rossi.”Every time testing the bike and entering the box, starting immediately with a good point,” Guareschi said of Rossi’s feedback. “‘Ah, this solution is good for this, for this, for this, but have this problem.’ And this is good for the atmosphere, because the engineers and mechanics don’t have bad information, but immediately the good information. And for me this is strange, because normally the rider says, ‘No, this is no good.’ Valentino is the opposite. And the atmosphere is very calm. I want go like this.”Basically, after the Valencia test, both riders have the same feeling and the same comments. And this a good start, because it’s possible keep one way. For example the engine, immediately both riders keep the decision after three, four laps” to go with the big bang over the screamer. “And this is good, especially when is necessary develop the bike like this year.”Stoner and Hayden had completely different riding styles, which led to separate paths for set-up. Guareschi believes that with Hayden and Rossi having more similar styles, they can advance much more quickly.”In 2010, the bike that Nicky rode and Casey’s bike, there’s a big difference,” Guareschi said. “Was big difference, because Nicky wants a bike with corner speed and when Nicky releases the brake, he wants the bike to stay in the line. Casey has a completely different style. Casey stops and immediately picks up the bike and opens the throttle. And to have this characteristic it’s necessary to build two completely different set-ups. For example, Nicky prefers the 2010 fork. Casey don’t like, absolutely, the 2010 fork. And the (ride) height is completely different. Casey wants a bike very low in front and Nicky wants a bike very high.”Based on their feedback from the Valencia test, Guareschi foresees Rossi’s and Hayden’s bikes being quite similar for the opening race in Qatar. Hayden’s broader in the shoulders, which makes for a more challenging aerodynamic profile, but their weights are similar, just like their temperaments. Hayden gets along with everyone, Rossi clearly didn’t get along with Lorenzo.”And Nicky and Vale speak very relaxed, and in this moment I’m very happy,” Guareschi said.


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.