ASSEN, HOLLAND, JUNE 23 – Valentino Rossi had an impressive and encouraging first outing on the Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici GP11.1, but questions remain after the first session was held on a wet track and the second session was canceled at the Dutch TT in Assen, Holland.The GP11.1 utilizes the carbon fiber chassis of the 2012 Ducati Desmosedici GP12, but with the current 800cc motor of the GP11. Rossi has two of the new bikes at Assen. Because of the engine rotation, teammate Nicky Hayden believes his will arrive for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in late July.Rossi was second fastest to San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli in Thursday’s wet morning free practice on the 2.82-mile Circuit van Drenthe in northern Holland.
Rossi’s best lap of 1:49.396 was the last of his 18 and his fastest by nearly a second.Simoncelli was fastest on his 15th of 17 laps and .360 of a second faster than Rossi. The lap was also his only one in the 1:49s. Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner was third at 1:49.527.Rossi didn’t get a chance to confirm his early form after the afternoon session was canceled because of oil on the track. NGM Forward Racing (Suter) rider Alex Baldolini and Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol’s Marc Marquez soiled a large section of tarmac after both had engine problems in the morning Moto2 practice. Track personnel spent hours cleaning the track before canceling all afternoon practice sessions. Rossi will now have to wait until Friday morning practice to see if he can maintain his pace and may have to wait until next week in Mugello to confirm the bike’s dry performance. The forecast for the rest of the race weekend calls for typically wet Assen weather.
“We only had one practice session with the new bike, so it’s very early to make a full verdict, but the first feelings are certainly positive,” Rossi said in a Ducati release. “The GP11 also went well in the wet, but the GP11.1 didn’t just maintain the positive aspects; I actually liked it a little bit more, so I’m curious to also try it in dry conditions. Unfortunately, they canceled the afternoon session because of an oil leak in Moto2; it would have been very nice to continue – in either the wet or the dry – the work that we started. We’ll have an hour and a half tomorrow morning, but we’ll have to work differently because we can’t make as many changes as we can in two separate sessions. Anyway, we’re happy for now. The new gearbox helps with acceleration on corner exits, and the rear of the bike is more stable. Now I can ride more naturally. There are still some small things to improve with the bike’s character, but we knew that and will continue to work on it.”All riders will be given extra time in tomorrow’s morning sessions, with the MotoGP practice being extended from 45 to 90 minutes.The trio of Americans finished in order from eighth to tenth. Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards (1:50.968) was in front of Hayden (1:51.277) and Yamaha’s Ben Spies (1:51.590). All three were upstaged by their teammates. Rossi was second, Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was fifth, and Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, riding for the first time since breaking his collarbone in qualifying for his home grand prix at Silverstone almost two weeks ago, was just behind Lorenzo.”This morning didn’t go particularly well,” Hayden said in a Ducati release. “I just couldn’t get a good feeling, and we were having a few issues. The clutch wasn’t working well on corner-entry, and we didn’t completely understand why until after the session. I wasn’t so fast, which isn’t good after coming from Silverstone, where I was strong in the wet. This afternoon getting canceled was a bit of a letdown when you’ve got your leathers on and are ready to go. It was also a shame for the diehard fans who stayed around waiting, and for those who planned to watch on TV, but the officials did the right thing for having oil on the track. For tomorrow, we’ll just see what the weather’s going to do and take advantage of whatever conditions we have.”MotoGP Practice:1. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:49.036
2. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:49.396
3. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:49.527
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:49.640
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:49.995
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:50.386
7. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1:50.413
8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:50.968
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:51.277
10. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:51.590
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