Hello there, were many of you guys at Donington for WSB? It’s been a bit of a bogey track for me and the Ducati, but things started off fairly well this time around. Practice was good, we made some positive steps and I was looking forward to a far better meeting than we’ve had before especially after qualifying on the front row.
Race one was all going so well, and I got in the lead quite quickly. But I squared off the final corner, and came a cropper right where the national circuit joins the International layout we use. I came off the front brake a little fast, loading the front too quickly right on that join, and away she went – how very annoying! That’s the fine line between pushing to win and extracting every millisecond from each corner, and settling for positions. I did get back on and scored some points, so who knows when they’ll come in useful.
In race two I’ve only myself to blame, I had a weird launch and lost a load of places. Then I got tangled up in an incident which pushed me off track onto the grass, then there was another crash right in front of me, so it was pretty eventful, a bit too much to be honest! I salvaged a podium but had used a lot of tyre doing so. It was as good as it was going to get.
I’ve seen all the talk doing the rounds about possible measures to give our rivals a bit of a leg up in WSB. Really, it’s up to everyone else to catch up. Pushing the envelope and development, signing the best riders and so on, is the name of the game. Kawasaki and Ducati are the only ones putting full effort in, and Kawasaki don’t even race in GPs. Outside of that, Yamaha are closing the gap, but as the rules stand right now it’s their job to catch up. You can’t expect big leg ups to teams that are struggling when we’re doing everything within the rules, just like everyone else. People forget how far the Panigale has come on since I first got on it years ago; it took a huge amount of work and commitment to get it in the position to be able to win lots of races, it’s far from the bike it was these days, it really is.
Prior to Imola all anybody said was that we needed to slow the Kawasakis down, after Imola it’s now Kawasaki and us. If there’s anyone that should agree with that, it should be me as I’m the one chasing them every weekend. But why should they, or us, be penalized for doing a great job? I’ve been on the bikes that aren’t ‘front runners’, but you make the best from what you’ve got and I won a race as a full privateer in my first WSB year, and with BMW when things really weren’t easy. Yes I’d like to see other riders in the mix, but it needs to be done in a way that you’re not penalizing others for being good.
I do think concessions on engines and testing would be good though, those like Honda would really benefit from it. Even a spec’ ECU may be good, but then factories couldn’t develop electronics for their road bikes any more, which is a big draw for WSB. And believe me, you need electronics on our race bikes!
Anyway, I’ve finally gotten to ride the Ducati GP bike! It was just a taste of 30 laps on used tyres (as they’re limited), but it was good of them to let me. Having ridden one bike for five years, the GP’er was very different but I was surprised how smooth it was, nothing like the last 800cc Desmo’ animal I raced years ago.
I expected a beast but it was a beauty! Everything from chassis, tyres and brakes were a lot stiffer and less forgiving on the setup I rode on. The electronics are also very different, a little too controlled for me in fact, I’d have preferred something livelier but they probably just used a general setting for me. It was Pirro’s bike, and I’d need much more time to get used to one, but it was a great experience. And wasn’t Dovi impressive at Mugello? What a win!
Lastly, Nicky Hayden, wow I’m so gutted, he’s such a huge loss to racing. It’s hard to believe even now weeks later; it’s so awful for his family and fiancé. It was horrible being reminded it had happened every five minutes as I’d gotten to know him a bit. We joined GPs at roughly the same time, and being English speaking, we chatted a lot. It was also great having him in WSB too. RIP, mate, we’ll really miss you rather a lot…
Chaz, styling it in!