“We're not quite at the point where we need to be”
Casey Stoner will start from the third row of the grid in tomorrow's Grand Prix of Spain with his team-mate Marco Melandri a further three rows back after a particularly demanding qualifying practice for the Ducati Marlboro
Team at Jerez.
The team and riders had expected to struggle at the Spanish circuit, one of the few tracks in the world where the GP8 proves extremely difficult to set up.
Stoner almost fought his way onto the second row but for a mishap on his best lap, when he lost vital tenths after running wide. However, the World Champion remains confident of a good result tomorrow after setting a good consistent pace on race tyres.
"Things haven't really been going too well for us here. We managed to go pretty much as quick as we'd gone all weekend early in the first session today but didn't really improve from there so that's disappointing”, admitted the Australian. “Qualifying could have been a lot better - I had a good lap going but unfortunately with the settings not being perfect the front just pushed me wide in one turn and I lost a good few tenths of a second, otherwise we would have been on the second row. We should be in a little bit better shape for the race - we got a decent pace and rhythm but we're not quite at the point where we need to be. I think there are a lot of guys in a similar situation to me, we're all struggling with the same thing so we'll have to wait and see what we can all do in the race tomorrow but we'll give it some!"
Melandri's day was even tougher as the Italian tried to turn around a disappointing start to his season at the most hostile circuit on the calendar for his bike. The former 250cc World Champion will need all his trademark grit and determination in what promises to be a battle to the finish in tomorrow's race.
"I had a crash in this afternoon's qualifying session and it was strange because I wasn't pushing very hard”, he explained. “The front felt a bit nervous and suddenly folded. We went straight back out with the other bike on qualifying tyres but the setting was a little different and I really struggled with it.
It's a shame because my last run this morning went quite well but when we dialled the same settings in this afternoon the feeling wasn't the same. I don't know, maybe it's going to be hard to go any better at this track but I know this is not my level - something's not right and we have to find a solution. I'm not happy but this is what we have to deal with at the moment."