Pramac Ducati

MotoGP – plucky Miller takes sensational pole in Argentina

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Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller’s huge gamble to switch to slicks on a drying track for the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina paid dividends, with the Australian snatching a jawdropping maiden MotoGP pole position off Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa on his final lap. In doing so, Miller became the first ever Ducati satellite rider to secure pole position.

It was a gritty and spectacular performance by Miller, who dug deep as his bike bucked, slipped and slid beneath him, especially in Turns 7 and 8 where the slicks struggled to find grip on the proper wet asphalt.

Miller said: “When you go from wets to slicks they are a lot heavier to turn, so you’ve got to get the timing right to stay in that wheel width of dry line. So just to get that flow, you’ve got to go out there and pretty much go all in straight away and try to get the heat, because these tyres don’t work otherwise.

“You’ve just got to go out there with a lot of confidence and try to muscle it as much as you can.

“My mother always said I never listened and I guess it was the bike telling me something and I wasn’t listening. I knew if I could survive that one corner the rest of the track was more or less dry so I had to try to make up as much time as I could in the first two sectors, sacrifice that one, and then in the last corner it was more or less dry.

“I was in survival mode at those points as it was so slippery. You cannot explain how slippery it is in the puddles with slick tyres, a minute bit of gas and the thing was going on its own. I was trying to survive.

“I was just hanging on. In those moments I was a passenger when you are on the wet with slick tyres anything you do you’ve got to hang on and hope to God that you make it to the other side.”

Johann Zarco was 0.212 seconds off the Australian’s time to put his Tech 3 Yamaha third on the grid and impress once again, with the Frenchman now having taken an incredible six front row starts in a row.After impressing all weekend, Tito Rabat on the Avintia Racing Ducati will launch from fourth – his best premier class qualifying by some margin and on for a provisional front row until the end of the session.

Suzuki’s Alex Rins lines up fifth after another impressive performance, while Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez couldn’t convert his superior Free Practice pace into pole and the reigning world champion starts sixth. Initially heading out on his second run to gamble on slicks, #93 gave it one lap before coming back in to switch back to wets. “Too much risk,” says a rider thinking of the Championship.

Q1 graduate Aleix Espargaro – who was the early pace setter in Q2 after eclipsing the Ducatis – heads up the third row of the grid after piloting his Aprilia to seventh. Meanwhile Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso starts eighth on the grid after progressing through from Q1 on his Ducati, with 2017 winner Maverick Viñales lining up alongside the Italian in ninth on his Yamaha.

After looking strong all weekend, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow will aim to pick off some of the riders in front of him on Sunday when he shoots from tenth – another rider to initially gamble on slicks before heading back in for wets.

Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi couldn’t give the Termas de Rio Hondo grandstands a dream Saturday as he qualified in P11 but just 0.022 back from Crutchlow, with Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone starting P12.

A breathtaking qualifying session left the Ducatis  of Jorge Lorenzo, who qualified P14, and Danilo Petrucci on the other satellite Pramac bike – who ended the day P18  – with plenty of work to do.

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MotoGP – Redding makes a flying start at a wet Phillip Island

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A rejuvenated Scott Redding is clearly enjoying on board the Ducati Desmosedici after posting the fourth fastest time on his first day of testing at the Phillip Island circuit.

In a day marked by bad weather with rain that has continuously alternating the sun without giving reference points to the team, Redding spent the morning session familiarising himself with the Michelin wet tyres before switching to racing clikcs as the track dried out.

He ended the day in an impressive fourth place after posting a time of 1:32.864.

The Brit said: “I did 41 laps but were not all that useful. We have done a good workout in the rain and we did a few laps in the dry. All thing considered we did two things we wanted to do although I would have liked to have more continuity instead of entering and leaving the pits because of the rain.

“The lap time was OK since we are still working on the bike and the conditions found today were not exactly the best. Rain tyres? I had a good feeling. The only problem for me was with aquaplaning because I somehow lost grip with the rear. But I must say that the feelings on the behavior of the new tyres is good.”

MotoGP – MotoGP – Redding making good progress on Ducati

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Scott Redding is continuing to adjust to life on board the Desmosedici, finishing the second day of testing in Sepang in an impressive seventh place.

The Briton, who is making tangible progress on the bike since leaving the Marc VDS squad, completed 42 laps and finished the session posting a time of 2:01,049 on the soft spec Michelin tyre – the ninth best time of the day and the seventh in the combined standings.

Redding said: “The goal was to improve the feeling with the bike. We haven’t spent any real work yet to find the time but obviously we’re trying. With the hard tyres we worked hard to look for the best position on the bike in order to increase traction. We found more stability but not enough traction. In this moment of the season it’s normal to try different set up and we’ll try again tomorrow. In the afternoon I did not go bad lapping consecutively in 2:01.8 and 2:01.9 but I hope tomorrow we can lower that by half of a second – that would make me competitive also on the race pace.”

MotoGP – Redding turns back on Factory Honda. Inspired or madness?

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As has been widely rumoured, Scott Redding has announced he will be leaving the Marc VDS outfit and switching to the  Octo Pramac Ducati squad for MotoGP 2016.

Redding enjoyed a strong season in 2014 on board the customer Gresini Honda and switched to a factory RC213V with Marc VDS this season, but the 22-year-old Briton has struggled to gel with the bike, suffering with a lack of rear grip and unable to tame the bike’s aggressive power delivery.

This weekend Redding enjoyed his best finish of the season, crossing the line in sixth place, and Redding admitted the announcement had relieved some of the pressure he had been feeling.

A statement by Ducati’s sporting director Paolo Ciabatti said: “We are happy to welcome Scott in the Ducati family. “He’s going to be racing for Ducati Pramac Team next year with the latest GP15 bikes. So we’re glad and we hope to put in the conditions to show his real potential. We’ve been following Scott from his Moto2 career and in his debut season with Gresini in MotoGP. We approached him last year, but then his team decided to move to MotoGP and it was not possible. We discussed with him again around the Brno weekend and we decided that this time was the right time.”

Redding has previous with Ducati after completing a successful private Ducati test in 2012, alongside Moto2 rival Andrea Iannone, who now rides for the Factory team. The Englishman posted quicker times than the Italian and is confident he can replicate that pace and get his career back on track, believing the Ducati is better suited to his riding style.

He will riding GP15 machinery, the same bikes currently used by Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso, but like the rest of the field be will be running Michelin tyres and a standard ECU.

However, many in the paddock are questioning the logic behind the move. Yes, the Honda RC213V is proving to be difficult to tame this year, with even the mercurial Marc Marquez unable to handle its power delivery, but that is down to Honda placing too much importance on Marquez’s feedback when they were developing the bike. They have riders of the calibre of Pedrosa, Crutchlow, Laverty and Miller to fall back on, and the bike will be a far better prospect in 2016.

Honda also has one of the biggest budgets in MotoGP and the full might of HRC will be unleashed in wrestling its MotoGP crown back from Yamaha – which is where the title is heading this year. This, when combined with he fact that the series switches to Michelin rubber next year,  means the momentum should swing back in the big H’s favour. When Honda got their arses handed to them by KTM in Moto3, Honda went back to basics and assembled a bike to crush the opposition…and Danny Kent is proof that that strategy is working. What Honda wants, Honda gets.

And look at the Ducati; after a bright and blistering opening to the season the Factory bikes have gone backwards, with Andrea Dovizioso particularly suffering. Yes, the GP15 is a massive leap forward, but a lot of the Ducati’s performance is down to the tyre concessions. And with the field running on standard rubber next year, it will be interesting to see how the Italian bikes fare.

Not many turn their backs on a Honda Factory bike and go on to bigger and better things. Time will tell whether Redding’s made the right decision during this pivotal period in his career…

MotoGP – ‘scared’ Petrucci puts on a riding masterclass at a wet Silverstone

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Danilo Petrucci claimed a sensational debut MotoGP podium after carving his way through the field from 18th to finish second in Sunday’s wet British Grand Prix.

The Pramac Ducati rider feared he was going to crash at every corner in the treacherous conditions but sliced his way through the field and by the end of the first lap he had battled his way up to ninth place.

After passing Lorenzo and Pedrosa, Petrucci found himself behind are leader Valentino Rossi and admitted he felt uncomfortable with his lofty position.

He said: “It was incredible and one moment I was behind Pedrosa and Lorenzo. I’ve never seen that situation. Only on the Playstation! So now what do I do? It’s so difficult to pass them – especially because it’s Lorenzo and Pedrosa.

“I was scared for Jorge after the race if I crash with him! I was scared about the reaction of Jorge, not the crashing. So I tried to keep some distance to him. But at the end everything went in a good situation.”

Petrucci reduced the gap to Rossi to just 1.5sec and looked to be narrowing the gap with three laps left, putting him within touching distance of earning Ducati’s first win since 2010. However, Rossi managed the gap leaving an ecstatic Perucci to cross the line in second place.

Speaking in the post-race press conference he said: “When I realised I was on the podium I was scared about crashing, because on the wet you never know your limit. But then Marquez crashed and – I don’t know why – but Valentino was coming closer, closer and closer. I was scared I was too fast because it’s not usual you gain that time to Valentino. It’s not a comfortable situation.

“Usually when we are training with Valentino (Petrucci is a regular training partner of Rossi and the pair train together at The Doctr’s ranch), when you are close to him he has something more. Last week we touched in one corner. I finished in front of him because I pushed him out. I thought, ‘that’s the last time we train together!’

“I didn’t want to repeat that situation especially because I was happy for this great result. Coming closer to him was too risky and with two laps to go I saw I had created a little bit of gap to Dovi behind.

“In the last lap I think I made every corner wrong! Then in the last corner I started laughing and thinking ‘now I wake up in bed’. So I’m very happy to be there.

“I was always fast in the wet, even with a not so competitive bike. I managed some 11th or 12th positions in the past. For everyone, for the media, it’s not a good result but for us it was a good result.

“I came especially from motocross and maybe I have some advantage with the track changing every lap. Maybe I’m fast because in the wet everyone is slower! So in the box they told me ‘we were scared about you, because you looked like you were crashing in every corner’.

“But for me as I say maybe everyone is slower and I don’t understand why. I really, really enjoy riding in the wet because everything is more smooth. It’s more natural riding.”

Petrucci is now up to eighth in the world championship and will be partnering Scott Redding next year, a situation he thinks will benefit both riders.

He said: “Redding is a fast rider. In the past he has raced against Marc Marquez and beaten him. He will be quick on the Ducati and we can push each other. I want to be eighth in the championship this year, but with Redding in the team may be next year I can be higher.”