6 April 2012
Barbera leads the Ducati challenge
"The understeer is still there, but now I think we have a place from which to work" - Valentino Rossi.
Satellite Pramac rider Hector Barbera was the leading Ducati in both of Friday's practice sessions for the Qatar MotoGP.
The Spaniard, riding the older 'Valencia spec' version of the GP12, claimed fifth and sixth places on the timesheets - his best lap time of the final session coming on lap 3 of 14.
“I'm very happy about the work we have done,” said Barbera. “The feeling with my Ducati GP12 is getting better lap by lap and we had a good strategy with work on. Today we began the second free practice session, looking for a fast lap time and we caught it.
"We had some issues with the rear tyre that, after some laps, it started to slide a lot. We still have a few things on the bike that we need to work on, but we have made two good sessions today. I'm very satisfied to be the first Ducati rider.”
Things weren't so positive for factory riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, who finished practice in seventh and eighth.
Hayden encountered chatter issues during the second night: “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.”
Like Hayden, Rossi is pleased with the top speed - Hayden, Barbera and Rossi set the fastest speeds of the night - but the Italian is still troubled by understeer.
Rossi, 1.2sec from fastest rider Jorge Lorenzo, is aiming for a top six place in Saturday's qualifying session.
“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,” said Rossi, who used a soft tyre to set his best time at the end of FP3.
“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.”
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