19 May 2014
Le Mans MotoGP: 'Same story' for Dovizioso, Crutchlow and Ducati
“It is always the same story. It is more strange how fast we are with the new tyre, than how slow we are in the race” – Andrea Dovizioso.
Andrea Dovizioso's hopes of a strong race from Ducati's first front row start of the year began perfectly when he led the opening three laps of Sunday's French MotoGP.
But after a spirited battle Dovizioso was forced to surrender the lead to Valentino Rossi, then plummeted back to eighth place within a handful of laps, where he would ultimately finish.
Despite pre-race optimism, Dovizioso revealed that the usual Ducati issues had decided his grand prix. On new tyres with maximum edge grip he had been able to battle with the best, but once the edge grip was lost he was helpless.
New Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna has warned that it will take time to identify and implement the correct design changes for the Desmosedici, but the riders may be starting to get a little impatient.
Dovizioso, who crossed the line 22 seconds from race winner Marc Marquez, said: “There is really no explanation different than I have already explained since the beginning of last year. I mean the reason is always the same. It is more strange how fast we are with the new tyre, than how slow we are in the race.
“The limit is always the same. With the new tyre on the first laps, we are not able to do the best line, but we have a 'specialty' with our bike and it is enough to make a good lap time.
“After that when the tyre drops - also more than the other competitors, which is one of the reasons - the main point is always the turning of the bike. Today I think the tyre was quite soft for everybody especially the front. Nobody was able to push really hard in braking and the middle of the corner, so it made more of a difference how good the bike is in turning.
“It is nothing new. It is always the same story. The strange thing is my third position in qualifying and my laps in front of everybody in the race. The reality is 22 seconds. It is not news to us because there is a technical reason. I don't have anything new to explain.”
Dovizioso added that even when leading he had mixed feelings.
“When nobody is in front of you in our situation it feels strange, but also at that time I wasn't fast. I wasn't in a situation where nobody can follow me. Also I think many riders are intelligent and don't push to the limit in the first few laps. In any case the feeling [of leading] was good, but very small compared with what happened after.”
Team-mate Cal Crutchlow concluded a difficult weekend, spent almost entirely outside of the top ten, in eleventh place. The result marked only his second finish for Ducati after accidents, injuries and technical problems.
“From a point of view of putting a positive spin on the situation, it is the first race I've finished in three grands prix,” he said. “Obviously Texas was the crash, I missed Argentina and in the last race we had a brake failure, or issue. Whatever you want to call it.
“We always knew that the problem around this circuit was going to be with the understeer, but at least we can look at the situation and say we are consistent. 20 something seconds from the winner is the same as Andrea in Texas, Argentina and Jerez. So we are consistent, but consistently a little bit too slow.
“I think this is the reality. The Ducatis would all have finish together today. I made a mistake, ran off track and lost a little bit the time. But even if Iannone was in the race he would have finished in the same group as us again.
“We are trying our best and we are giving them the information. But it's clear for everyone to see the problem. It's not a problem we've just found out. Hopefully we can go to Mugello and something will improve a little bit.”
However Crutchlow is not aware of any new developments for Ducati's home grand prix.
“I don't think so. I've not heard or even asked. In the end I'm not bothered if anything new comes. I know that the information to Gigi is crucial, but he knows the situation and the problem. I can't ask them to improve the bike immediately. You can't just go and build something overnight. We know this doesn't happen in MotoGP.
“Hopefully the situation will be a little bit better in Mugello with us having tested there. But we only did one day and the condition of the track wasn't very good, so it was more a test to get some data for the electronics.”
In addition to understeer, Crutchlow's other issues include problems under braking and a lack of single-lap speed.
“Once I'm within half a second in the braking zone it seems I don't get the wind [resistance] so it's difficult to stop with the bike...
“In practice and qualifying I'm nowhere near Dovi or Iannone. But in the race it's possible for me to battle with them. It's about confidence with the bike, to be able to do a fast lap time. I feel unable to do that with this bike.
“We know over the years [a fast lap] has been one of my strong points. So once the confidence comes maybe we'll be faster in practice, but there's no point being fast in the practice and no good in the race.
“But I believe it's a better situation than it has been in the last races.”
Under new rules for this season, Ducati is allowed the same engine, tyre and testing concessions as the Open class. However all Ducati riders, other than Iannone - who fell on the second lap - raced with the same soft compound rear tyre as the Factory class Honda and Yamaha riders.
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