The final two MotoGP free-practice sessions for the Qatar Grand Prix took place this evening at Losail International Circuit, with qualifying scheduled to happen tomorrow night ahead of the opening race of the season on March 20. Ducati Marlboro Team riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden both bettered their lap times from last night, but they haven’t improved their pace and positions as much as they’d hoped.
Nonetheless, the Italian rider chose the direction to work in to refine his GP11’s setup for Sunday’s race, and tomorrow he’ll try to make another step forward. Hayden started the evening’s second session relatively well, only to find progress difficult, but both riders and their crews will look for solutions tomorrow morning.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 8th, 1:56.306
“Today was a bit difficult, because we had hoped to make a bigger improvement, but in the end we didn’t’ lower our time enough. First of all, my shoulder bothered me a little. I wasn’t as strong as I was yesterday, and in the end of the session, I could feel it. Also, we still don’t know this bike perfectly and, as happened to us in the test, we get to a point where it’s difficult to make a step forward with the setup. It’s partly a matter of experience. We’re trying to work with the weight distribution, especially on the rear, but we still haven’t found the right balance. We’re missing half a second with our pace to be in the group where we hope to be Sunday. Anyway, today we tried two setup solutions that were quite different, and we chose one that we’ll try to refine tomorrow.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 14th, 1:56.586
“Things didn’t really go a lot better today. My position is worse than yesterday, and my lap time is hardly any better. I’m still having trouble with the bike in the long corners, but honestly, a rider should be able to find a bit more time than I have. After two days of testing and the practice sessions, my time isn’t that much better than it was in the test. It’s a bit frustrating to be so far back for the first race, but the team and I will try to figure it out. My guys are working hard and everybody’s pitching in. Qualifying could be difficult because the soft tyre doesn’t really seem to help my lap time a lot. Hopefully we can find a setup change or something that will help.”
Record: Casey Stoner (Ducati - 2008), 1’55.153, 168.193 Km/h
Best Pole: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha - 2008), 1’53.927, 170.003 Km/h