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Austin MotoGP: Ducati heads into the unknown
16 April 2013
Already playing catch-up relative to the performance of the factory Yamaha and Hondas, Ducati will be at an added disadvantage during this weekend's inaugural MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas.
The Honda and Yamaha factory teams both attended a private test at the new facility in March, but Ducati opted against the expensive fact-finding mission.
That means they will have only simulation data on which to base the initial Desmosedici set-up, although home American star Nicky Hayden - like Pramac's Ben Spies - did at least ride the circuit during the US launch of the Panigale road bike.
“Having three GPs in my home country almost seems like a dream to me, and the Circuit of the Americas is really a great track that's nice, safe and new, with great facilities,” said Hayden, a race winner in front of his home fans at Laguna Seca and podium finisher at Indianapolis.
“I've been around it on a street bike, so I know the layout, although it will obviously be much different on a MotoGP bike. The track has a little bit of everything, and it's definitely not easy. It's really long, quite wide, and very technical, with some very particular corners that have open entries - often blind - and tight exits.
“I like a good challenge, and this track definitely offers one. Hopefully the American fans will come out and support the race and set up a nice trend for the next two American rounds.”
Hayden finished eighth during the opening round in Qatar, just behind new team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian impressed with his single-lap speed, qualifying an excellent fourth, but felt seventh (and 24s from victory) was 'the reality' in race trim.
“I haven't been to the Circuit of the Americas, but from the video it looks like a really big and nice track, and it also looks really difficult,” said Dovi of the F1 venue. “Unfortunately, we didn't test there like some of the other guys, so it will be a problem for us in the beginning. Anyway, I'm really excited for us to be riding on a new track.”
Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi added: “Unfortunately, since the Ducati Team didn't test at COTA, we're at a bit of a disadvantage to our competitors; we'll have dual assignments during the early sessions - we have to find a general setup and the correct settings for the electronics - so we hope to have good weather in all of the sessions.
“The weekend is a bit of an unknown for us, but we're optimistic.”
The United States is Ducati's number-one market.