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GP Week : Issue 115
Ducati takes a step in Rossi’s direction Moto GP news >> VALENTINO Rossi’s debut season on the Ducati Desmosedici continued to gather momentum after his second successive fifth place at Estoril, when he pronounced a new chassis and engine combination as “a clear step forward”. On the significantly revised GP11, Rossi cut seven-tenths of a second off his previous best time; while equally satisfied team-mate Nicky Hayden improved by better than a full second. The Italian squad had much more to test than their rivals. The new chassis comprises a reworked carbon-fibre ‘stressed airbox’ front chassis unit, with stiffness ratios revised to address the uncertain front-end feeling that has plagued riders for more than a year. A further benefit, according to Rossi after the tests, was to make the bike more responsive to adjustments: “ The feeling is better, and the lap time,” he said. The vital connection between “my hand and what is happening with the front tyre was the most positive thing.” He could have been faster, he added, but his shoulder was getting tired and painful by the end of four days round the technical Portuguese circuit. Both he and Hayden would use the new chassis at the next race at Le Mans, but they will have to wait longer for the improved engine, which he also tested. This is believed to have a heavier crankshaft to give more flywheel effect, and soften the engine’s responses as it comes on throttle. “It was not a big difference, but the character was smoother in acceleration,” said Rossi. The multi-champion’s restoration to the front might take a little longer yet, but the improvement in three races is already significant. New chassis ready for Le Mans 15