Eugene Laverty described his 13th place finish at Mugello as “the best of a bad situation” as he attempted to find a solution for the Ducati GP14.2's difficulties in high-speed changes of direction and long corners across the three days.
The Northern Irishman was unable to extract more from his Aspar Ducati in qualifying when he pushed harder – “It's always going to get the better of you so you have to work with it!” – and had to settle for a lowly 18th place on the grid.
Although unable to find any rear grip at the beginning of the race, Laverty found improvements toward the end of the 23 laps, and feels he and his crew have made steps with the bike around this kind of layout since Austin in April.
“It was really tough, especially in the beginning,” said Laverty, who is still placed inside the top ten in the world championship standings.
“I tried to go with the others but just kept losing the rear and couldn't turn the bike. I settled into a rhythm and by the end the bike improved and started to turn a lot better. Then I had some grip. When it turns you can turn and exit better.
“In the last laps the pace was better so we've definitely learnt a lot at this race about the direction of the bike. We've got it working better in the areas in which I've been weak before: the longer, the fast change of direction. When I compare with Austin, we're much stronger in those two areas.
“Basically I couldn't complete the corner. We know that's the thorn in the side for the 14.2. it was really nice to see that improved at the end of the race. That gives us something to study on the data. I have an idea why it got better. Yesterday I was really pushing and the lap time wasn't arriving.
“I expected here to be hard because of the bike's weaknesses. That – the fast change of direction and long corners – is basically Mugello. When I followed Petrucci in the first part of the race in Le Mans, I understood why the Ducati riders that had ridden the GP15 said they had lost a little bit in braking but it turned better.
“I found that in this race. The braking was really strong but to complete the corner was difficult. We improved it at the end and that's something we need to study. I'm excited for Barcelona because it has areas where the bike is really strong right now: the braking. I think we'll be there.”
With competitive times not coming in qualifying, Laverty explained how he had tried to push harder to shave several tenths off his lap time.
Yet, the GP14.2's character would not lend itself well to an overly aggressive style of riding, and instead responded positively to a smoother way of braking and more gentle throttle application.
“[Sunday was the] Best of a bad situation. I don't like to be in that position yesterday. That's not where we should be. 18th on the grid is not where we belong. I'm sure in Barcelona that we can be back to where we were in Jerez, fighting for a top ten position.
“The harder I pushed it was [more physical]. When I was too aggressive with the brakes I wasn't gaining anything. When I was too aggressive on the gas it made it more difficult. When you settle into a rhythm with this bike you're more gentle on the brake, more gentle on the gas, then it's easier and also faster.
“When you try to override the bike it gets to physical and the lap time doesn't come. I did that yesterday, two laps together. After the first I thought, 'That was good', and tried to push harder on the next, but I got the same lap time. You can't fight the Ducati. It's always going to get the better of you so you have to work with it!”