The Ducati Team continued to struggle at Assen in today’s qualifying sessions, with all riders bar Michele Pirro on the ‘lab bike’ unable to be directly seeded through to Q2. Nicky Hayden was the only Ducati from Q1 able to make the cut into the Q2 session, along with Aspar CRT rider, Randy de Puniet.
|Does not look like a happy bunny..
Both factory riders, Dovizioso and Hayden have complained about the same old problems associated with the troublesome Desmosedici all weekend, with drying free practice and qualifying being no different today. However, in the rain once again, the Ducatis are able to run up the front with the other prototype bikes.
Dovizioso’s lack of progress from Q1 to Q2 was largely attributed to being held up by Hector Barbera on the Avintia Blusens CRT, Dovizioso expressed his angst at the Spaniard in the form of a swift kick to the FTR’s fairings on the cool down lap. His outlash was probably a result as well from his frustration with the continued lack of pace with his machine, and starting tomorrow’s race from 15th on the grid as expressed in his post-qualifying comment: “There’s not much to say: we’re simply not fast, the gap is big, and all of the Ducati riders are really far from the front. Nicky is the fastest among us, and even while riding well, he’s a second and a half back. I didn’t manage to advance into Q2, and I’m sorry for the whole team. Then Barbera came into this already-difficult situation and hindered me during my fast lap, making everything even more complicated. I was pushing and had done a split that was a tenth better when he entered the track in front of me with a new tyre and started to push as well, causing me problems. I know I shouldn’t have gestured at him, but my conscience is clear because I think I’m one of the most respectful riders in the championship. We’re starting from very far back, and it will definitely be a really long and difficult race, but we’ll try our hardest, as always.”
Team mate, Nicky Hayden didn’t have quite such a frustrating day though he still will be doing rain dances all night in his motorhome after managing a best lap of over a second off the pace that puts him 10th on the grid for tomorrow’s race. “It’s a tough day for me and the team. After we made some changes overnight, the bike felt better in the wet this morning than yesterday, and I was immediately able to go faster. I was hoping those improvements might carry over into the dry, but then in FP4, the bike was still moving a lot, especially on corner entry. The tyres here have a pretty stiff carcass, which isn’t helping us, and I’m really fighting the bike a lot. I barely advanced through to Q2, and my time in that was over a second slower than in qualifying last year, which is too much. I hate to admit it, but I hope for rain tomorrow.”