MONTEREY, CA, JULY 22 –
Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi will race different bikes in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix after they decided to stick with the same motorcycles they’d raced in last week’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring. For Hayden that means the tried and true GP11, which he’s ridden all season, including to one podium finish. For Rossi it’s the GP11.1, which he rode to a season worst ninth place in Germany in the bike’s second outing. On the cool, sunny first day of practice for Sunday’s race, Hayden tested the GP11.1 alongside the GP11, but decided to stick with his familiar mount, while Rossi never wavered from riding only the GP11.1 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.In the end, neither was very successful. Hayden was tenth fastest in the combined sessions with Rossi one spot back. Rossi was 1.313 secs. slower than the pace set by Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, the fastest rider of the day.
Hayden said he hadn’t given up on the GP11.1 and that he’d like to test it at the final test of the season the day after the Czech Grand Prix at Brno, “test all day, let me learn more about it and from there go on.” If that bike turns out to be the future “we should at some stage start looking at it. I think that’s one reason Valentino (Rossi) definitely wants to stay on it, he knows that’s the future. But I don’t want to, I want to get the best result I can here Sunday.”The GP11.1 has a completely different and more traditional rear section and swingarm mated to a similar front end. The engine continues to be a stressed member of the chassis. “In fact, the GP11.1 on the rear is probably even better, so it kinda makes the front even worse in some places, but the front is really no different,” he said.The biggest difference is the gearbox. The feel was lighter and softer, and the engine cut isn’t as long as it is with the GP11. Hayden’s comments were similar to those of the Repsol Honda riders, who earlier in the year said it made shifting in the corners less disruptive.”Places where you shift leaned over, it upsets the bike a lot less,” Hayden said.