FP 1 was on a dirty track surface, where Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi spent the single 45 minute session working on finding a race setup, as well as continuing to familiarize themselves with the still-new Desmosedici GP12. Toward the end, the American managed to post the third-fastest time of the session, while Rossi, who used just a single hard tyre, finished the night tenth-quickest. While Hayden switched to soft compounds to set a better lap time, Rossi continued on the hard compound trying to put in more laps and familiarize himself with the machine and the track.
FP2 and FP3 was slightly better. Although the area was buffeted by fairly strong winds for much of the day, the surface grip improved compared to last night’s dusty conditions, forcing the riders and their teams to adapt their setups accordingly.
Both Nicky Hayden, seventh at the end, and Valentino Rossi improved their performances, with the Italian in particular working with the hard tyre, consistently lowering his times with the race setup. Only in the final exit did he mount a softer tyre, with which he posted the eighth-best time of the day.
FP3 : 8th (1:56.535)
FP2: 7th (1:57.274)
“Today went pretty well, and I’d say that the last session was the best. The position is nothing fantastic, but on the positive side, I’m very consistent with the hard tyre. The front of the bike is giving more feedback, so I can push more, which is very important, and the bike is very fast at the end of the straight. The understeer is still there, but now I think we have a place from which to work. We hope to improve two or three small things with the setting for tomorrow, and we’ll try to qualify on the second row.”
FP1: 10th (1:57.914)
“It’s the first practice and I used the hard tyre the whole session, trying to do a lot of laps in order to understand it. The new tyre is much better for warming up, so good for safety, but it started to slide a lot after some laps and made some of the understeer worse. We have to work with the setting and also the electronics. The soft will be important for Saturday, but the hard will be the tyre for the race. Tomorrow we’ll try to do better.”
FP3: 7th (1:56.402)
FP2: 7th (1:56.782)
“As the track is cleaning up, we’re getting more grip, but in a way that’s hurting us since I’m also getting more chatter. When that happens, I can’t keep my lean angle, and I run wide, especially in the flat corners. We tried some different springs but haven’t found the right solution yet. Chatter is so strange and inconsistent sometimes, but we’ll have a look at the data and do our best to sort it out. My pace isn’t great, but although I’m not thrilled with how the day went, the bike is certainly doing well on top speed, which is going to be important in the race.”
FP1: 3rd (1:56.924)
“The first session went well. This track is a lot different than what we experienced in Jerez, more open and a lot wider. It was quite dirty and not very grippy, which helped us a bit. We started off on the hard tyre and then switched to the soft for the last exit, and I was able to do a nice lap. In general we were pretty fast and consistent, and I’ve certainly had worse sessions here, but we’ll just stay calm, keep trying to improve and try to get a good grid spot on Saturday night. It’s just one session, and there’s a long way to go. Sunday night is what counts, and it would be nice to get this team a result it deserves.”
VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
“It was an off-season marked by hard work, with a lot of effort expended by Ducati and all the guys in the racing department. Valentino and Nicky also had to work hard on the track, and despite some difficult moments during the winter, which I think is normal when you work on this kind of a schedule, we come to Qatar with a decent base. It’s a starting point, or rather one of the steps along the path that we’re following. We know that other steps await and we’ve planned for them, and as always, the races will give us more accurate answers than the tests. Although our priority will be to work toward putting Vale and Nicky in the best conditions possible for Sunday, I’m sure that we’ll also gather important information to help us continue improving our bike.”