Ducati facing Aragon MotoGP ‘struggle’ after trying day of practice

Le Mans winner Danilo Petrucci was only 15th pic: motogp.com

A difficult day of practice at the MotoGP Aragon Grand Prix has left Ducati’s riders facing an uphill battle to reach Q2.

As Yamaha sealed a one-two-three led by works rider Maverick Vinales, the Desmosedici’s quickest runner recorded just the 11th fastest time courtesy of Avintia’s Johann Zarco on the GP19.

Works Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and last-start winner Danilo Petrucci managed just the 13th and 15th fastest times, with Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller 1.255s off the pace in 14th ahead of team-mate Francesco Bagnaia in 19th.

The day’s running was punctuated by cold weather, with the first 45-minute session of the weekend delayed by over half an hour, with Michelin’s tyres needing a track temperature minimum of 12 degrees to work safely.

In the wake of Friday’s dramas, Saturday morning’s Free Practice 3 has been delayed by 30 minutes to allow for track temperatures to rise to a safe level.

Dovizioso, who is 18 points down on championship leader Fabio Quartararo, admitted he was “worried” ahead of Saturday’s running after he struggled to generate heat in his tyres.

“I don’t know why we couldn’t put the right temperature on the front and rear tyres, and we couldn’t push, we couldn’t put that intensity, especially on the right corners,” said Dovizioso, who finished on the Aragon podium in 2019 alongside Miller.

“On the left corners I wasn’t too bad compared to last year. But on the right corners it was the points where I was losing compared to last year.

“I’m a bit worried about tomorrow because the wind will be maybe okay, but to be able to push and put the lap time will be difficult. I don’t understand why this happens, especially in this track.

“Tomorrow we will understand a bit more because the wind will be normal, and the limit will be the same. This means it’s just the temperature on the tyre.”

Miller added: “We are struggling in the wind like hell… sector one, sector two, very difficult. Hopefully looks like the wind is coming down tomorrow and the next day.

“The wind is the biggest issue, that’s for certain. All the Ducatis seemed to be struggling, I think much like it was in day one at Barcelona we all struggled in the wind and as the wind died off, we were able to be more competitive.

“It’s just the way the bike works. For sure the big front fairing doesn’t help, but in the wind the biggest thing you need is a bike that turns and we struggle still with this issue of turning on a perfect day.

“The problem is amplified when you turn into the wind.”

Despite the best-placed GP20 runner being Dovizioso in 13th, behind the Avintia duo of Zarco and Tito Rabat, Yamaha ace Quartararo expects Ducati to “come back” and feature prominently as the weekend progresses.

“Last year they were there to fight. They (finished) second and third. Of course, Marc (Marquez) was far away, but they had a great bike to fight for the victory,” the Frenchman reasoned.

“Looks like the conditions will be a little bit hotter tomorrow and Sunday with less wind.

“So, I think they will come back and we know they have a big potential here. From my side, I hope they will not come.”

Riders will return for FP3 on Saturday at 19:55 AEST, with qualifying to follow at 23:50.

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