Melandri also struggles
Casey Stoner was today forced to rely heavily on the talent and class that made him a World Champion in order to secure a third row start for the Grand Prix of Portugal following a particularly difficult qualifying practice.
It is an unusual
situation for Casey and the team, who are used to finding a set-up quickly and taking full advantage of the GP8's potential.
The Australian, who was clearly not happy at not being able to challenge for a front position, held a long debrief with his engineers at the end of the session as they formulated a plan for tomorrow's warm-up session. He then gave a firm handshake to each and every one of his mechanics in a show of unity that proves every member of the team is committed to turning around this difficult situation.
Marco Melandri also struggled today as he looked to make progress from a difficult start and he faces another uphill task tomorrow as he starts from the back row.
CASEY STONER - (Ducati Marlboro Team) - 9th fastest; 1'37.253
"We were struggling a little bit for confidence coming here after the problems we had at Jerez and even though I was expecting a better performance at this track we've found similar difficulties. We're really struggling for a set-up and I don't think there's much more we can get out of the bike here. Even so, we need to look ahead to the warm-up tomorrow to try and find a better solution in a way that will let me fight in the race. Things went so smoothly for us last year that it would be easy to get frustrated with our current situation but they way out of it is to stay calm and have belief in each other.
I know I've got a great team and a great factory behind me, so we'll keep working together until we turn things around. Basically we need to sleep on what's happened over the last two days and head into tomorrow's warm-up in a positive and productive manner."
MARCO MELANDRI - (Ducati Marlboro Team) - 17th; 1'39.115
"I didn't exactly expect to be running at the front but I was hoping for better than this. I've had problems from the start and so far we've not been able to resolve them. It seems we need more time to change this so the situation remains the same - I can't ride as I want to and I don't have good control of the bike. It is not easy to work out where the problem is coming from and that's why we still haven't worked out how to solve it. It is not time to lie down but to keep working hard for a solution."