The Marlboro Ducati team ended Saturday as polar opposites with Nicky Hayden putting his Ducati on the front row while his teammate Valentino Rossi struggled to 13th and well off the pace. One enters tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez with high hopes, the other not so much, though rain could make the race unpredictable enough to give Rossi hope. After all, he was fast in wet conditions on Friday.
“To be on the front row is really good for us,” Hayden said after his 1:40.563 put him third on the front row for tomorrow’s GP. “The track conditions were quite strange – different compared to what we’ve had the whole weekend. It certainly helped that we tested here in the dry not too long ago, as we had a relatively good base setup. We went out hard right from the gun, because we knew some spots of rain were coming. I moved up a couple times and thought, ‘Okay, let it rain now,’ but then I’d drop back down and think, ‘Oh, don’t start raining yet.’ It got better near the end, but it was still tough because there were a lot of wet patches on the track, which made it easy to make mistakes. In the end, we took advantage of the strange situation and made the front row, so I’m really happy for my team. Now we’ll try to make it happen when it counts tomorrow.”
Rossi was less upbeat. And with reason.
“Qualifying didn’t go well today,” Rossi said, the Italian’s best over two seconds slower than his teammate. “The conditions were quite difficult because it was cold and the asphalt was dry, but not completely. Anyway, it was like that for everyone, so that wasn’t the problem. Unfortunately, I’m still having a very hard time riding and entering corners – both on the brakes and off. I’m slow to achieve maximum lean angle and don’t carry the necessary corner speed, so when it’s time to accelerate, I’ve already lost too much ground. We’ve been trying to solve this situation for a while, but we haven’t managed it yet. We have to keep working on the setup because Nicky had a nice session today and really did a good job. Comparing the data, we’ve confirmed that we’re losing all our time on corner entry. Anyway, we went a bit better in the wet, so we’ll see what conditions we have for the race.”