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Monday, September 17, 2012

Hayden likes latest parts, Rossi another swingarm

Nicky Hayden got his first chance to try the new frame and swingarm that Ducati team-mate Valentino Rossi took to second place in Sunday's Misano MotoGP, during a private test session at the circuit on Monday.

Rossi, who finished 4.4s from winner Jorge Lorenzo, had been given the new parts during a private test prior to the race weekend, which Hayden missed due to his Indianapolis injuries.

The American's fractured hand is still far from healed, but he braved the pain on Monday to perform a quick back-to-back comparison. Hayden, who finished seventh in Sunday's race, now intends to use the new parts in the forthcoming Aragon round.

“In order not to stress my hand too much, we only did two runs today - one with basically my race bike, and one with the new frame - but it was nice to get an idea of the chassis,” said Hayden, who rode for 14 laps.

“I wasn't sure if I would even be able to notice the difference, but I could actually feel more than I expected.

“I felt better with it, for sure. I had more confidence because there's better front grip for braking into the corners, and because of that, also better turning. I think it's certainly a step in the right direction, straight away, and I'm happy with the work Ducati has done.

“Because I was able to brake a bit differently, I'll probably need to stiffen the fork spring a bit, but already, it was a good step. I'm quite happy, and at Aragon we'll start to work on the setup.”

Hayden was on track alongside Rossi and Ducati development rider Franco Battaini.

Rossi had a further chassis development to try - of the same geometry, but different stiffness - and also another new swingarm.

“It was a good day. Today we tried a different chassis that had a different stiffness, but honestly, I didn't like it a lot,” said Rossi, who completed 53 laps. “It was an improvement in some areas, but we had some new problems in other areas. In the end, it's not a real improvement, so I don't think we'll use it again.

“But the positive thing is that we tried a new swingarm that I liked a lot because it gave me more edge grip and more rear grip under acceleration, and it helps the bike to stay more stable on corner exits.

“So of the two things, one worked. I think we'll use the new swingarm starting in Aragon, so there we'll see what our potential is on another track.”

Technical director Filippo Preziosi, who recently struck back at suggestions Ducati hasn't done enough development this year, revealed that another frame may arrive in time for the Valencia season finale - Rossi's last race for Ducati.

“It was a very useful test: We had prepared a chassis that was the same as that used by Valentino in yesterday's race in terms of geometry, but different in terms of rigidity,” he began.

“Valentino gave us feedback that will allow us to design an evolution that has the positive characteristics that he noticed, and which match what we expected from the calculations we had made, but without losing precision. We also had a different swingarm that Valentino liked, so we'll bring it to Aragon [September 28-30].

“Nicky did his first comparison between the pre-Misano frame and swingarm and those used by Valentino yesterday. His initial comments were positive, but we'll have to check again at Aragon when his physical condition is better.

“Based on the data we gathered today, we're speeding up production of the next step of the frame, which could arrive before Valencia.”

Battaini worked on electronic developments.

Hayden will ride alongside Andrea Dovizioso at the factory Ducati team next season, when Rossi will return to Yamaha.


World Superbikes winner MSMW2012