|The gap to the front is shrinking… steadily.
For the third day in succession, both factory Ducati riders, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden finished 8th and 9th (the other way round, this time), both stating that they are satisfied with the level of progression that has been made throughout the second of the official IRTA tests, at Sepang.
After the track dried from the overnight rain, the riders continued the development programme on their Desmosedici GP13’s, scrutinising different weight distributions and centre of gravity, along with trying out new parts for the frame and electronic settings on the engine. Both riders have said how turning has improved overall, though corner speed is still lacking.
Throughout the past 3 days, Dovi and Hayden have both seemed rather content with the work being done on their bikes, noting further progression ever day. Dovizioso was allowed a run on the laboratory GP13 that test rider, Michelle Pirro has been testing recently, though this wasn’t the bike he set his fastest lap time on. Despite times at the front being slower overall, the gap between Dovi and the top of the leaderboard had reduced, to just over a second. The Italian recorded a best time today of 2m 1.650s, set on lap 35 of 44. “I’m quite happy with the work we’ve done here. Yesterday we tried some rather radical changes to the setup and were able to understand something about the way for the future, while also improving my feeling. I’m now able to brake harder and enter corners faster, although we’re still not quick enough in the middle of the corner. My lap time is isn’t bad for the conditions we had today. Pirro’s ‘laboratory’ bike had some positive points, but I couldn’t improve my lap time with it because the positioning and the power delivery were different than on my bike. Anyway, we needed to understand better whether that bike is good or not, and it was positive, as it helps me with the final part of braking and the first part of corner entry. I’m very happy with how we worked at this test, with how much we were able to improve from the last test, and with how much feedback we were able to give the engineers. It will be interesting to go to Jerez for the last test and to Qatar for the first race because they’re all three completely different tracks, so we’ll be able understand more.”
Meanwhile, team mate Nicky Hayden didn’t have such a successful session compared to yesterdays, with his time from day 3 being slower than his overall time from the test. The American has put this down to some of the things they were ‘trying’ on the bike. His best lap of the day was a 2m 2.070s, set on 23/53. “I was faster yesterday, but that was partly because my feeling today wasn’t quite as good due to some things we were trying on the bike. Overall though, I leave here more positive than after the first test. We’ve seen some progress in terms of both the time and the consistency, and I had a better feeling with the bike and was able to improve a little more as the days went on. We closed the gap a bit, and I had a much better feeling in the rain. The turning is still the main area where we need to improve, but although we knew the beginning of the season was going to be tough, we have to stay focused and keep the course.”