The Ducati Team’s scheduled three-day off-season test at the Spanish Jerez circuit last week certainly wasn’t without its hurdles, but the team took them in stride and heads into MotoGP’s winter test ban with information that will be helpful as engineers do their development work on the 2013 Desmosedici.
Sunny-but-cold conditions marked the first two days, allowing Nicky Hayden to complete a full testing program on Wednesday and to post competitive lap times on Thursday, though a small crash robbed him of riding time when the track was at its best. On Friday, rain and wind made gathering much meaningful data impossible, though Hayden did a brief comparison between hard and soft rain tires.
“Things didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped, but the test has been useful despite everything,” Hayden said. “On the first day, we struggled a little bit getting up to speed, but we improved somewhat yesterday [Thursday]. We were able to evaluate the new frame and swingarm, as well as a few new settings.
“Today [Friday], though, the weather hasn’t been kind to us. I did three exits in the wet, but it hasn’t been dry enough for slicks. It would have been nice to ride in the dry today, as we wanted to confirm a few things and improve our pace, but nonetheless, we got through some things and have a lot of information to work with.”
Unfortunately, new Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso managed to turn just three laps on day one before he was forced to the garage with a strained neck that kept him off the bike for the remainder of the test.
“It’s a shame about the problem with my neck,” Dovizioso admitted. “It’s something I had experienced at the GP in Malaysia, where I crashed twice, and in Australia, where I crashed once, and both times I had physiotherapy treatments and anti-inflammatory medicine.
“It re-emerged last week two days after a crash on my motocross bike, but the same treatment worked and I felt fine when I came to Jerez for the test. Unfortunately, it happened again after just a few laps, and this time we weren’t able to resolve it with physio and anti-inflammatories. It seems that the problem is probably bigger than we had previously thought, and I’ll have to undergo some further medical tests.”
The Ducati Team now begins an obligatory two-month break from testing, after which they will return to action at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, where MotoGP’s first test of 2013 will take place February 5-7.
“Obviously, we would have preferred that things played out differently, but in such cases, you have to just make the best of the situation and gather as much good data as circumstances allow,” said team manager Vittoriano Guareschi. “We continued the testing program that we started at Valencia, looking for confirmation on the frame and swingarm that we tried in the latter part of the season. Unfortunately, Andrea’s fluke problem with his neck was a setback, but Nicky turned some good lap times despite the tires being at their limit in the cool conditions. Now we need to work at the factory over the winter in order to give our riders a competitive package at the first Sepang test in February.”
–From Ducati Team