In the last race in Spain there were so many guys fighting together at the beginning which was entertaining, but this time around it seemed that Casey Stoner in particular had different plans. It was an impressive start and a very fast first two or three laps, and his first flying lap was scary! Luckily he couldn't go at that pace the whole race distance which made it much more entertaining, with Jorge Lorenzo always there and pushing all the way, and Dani Pedrosa closing in too. So it was entertaining to watch, and in the end it was Casey who pretty much took control.
The Ducati guys experienced very different outcomes. Valentino Rossi basically did what they planned to do after last week. It seemed like from the very first practice he really tried to get the best out of the package and the bike, without trying to change the whole set-up 15 times over the weekend. Thanks to this I think he could get a better rhythm, they knew it wasn't going to be perfect, but especially in the race he managed to go well and he finished seventh.
Now he is where he is expected to be: he was the best Ducati by far. I think Valentino was out there to beat Nicky - who did have problems with his electronics - because he is the number one rider in the factory and everybody expects him to be the top Ducati. He did especially well in the second half of the race when his lap times were good enough to probably go at the pace of Dovizioso, so he showed potential. I also spoke to Filippo Preziosi from Ducati after the race and they're just not there yet, especially with new tyres at the beginning of the race. Valentino doesn't have the confidence to do what he can do when the tyres start dropping in, and they have not yet understood why that is.
Nicky Hayden showed he is out there fighting like a lion! Every weekend he is trying really hard. Nicky had a really good opening lap and was able to overtake some guys, but they had an issue with the electronics which started to mix up where he was on the track. Traction control, engine braking, all those electronics need to know where the bike is on the track and it went wrong. It was impossible for him to give 100%. Credit to him for finishing the race where he did in 11th, but I'm sure he will have been extremely disappointed.
On Monday there will be a one-day test at Estoril, although the weather prediction is bad and states there is an 80% chance of rain. Going into a day of testing after a full-on race weekend will be very productive, because you have sorted out a lot of things and the level is already there for the rider. This is going to be a very useful day and while Preziosi didn't mention exactly what they want to do, he was keen on trying a lot of different things and on finding a solution. He was really looking forward to the test and keeping his fingers crossed it's going to be dry.
We go to Le Mans in two weeks, where Valentino was on the podium last year. I asked him if we would see him there again, fighting for the podium. He was laughing and said he was hopeful but that they weren't there yet. So they need to keep expectations in check but hopefully they can make a lot of progress at the test.
At the moment MotoGP is quite predictable with regards to who is on the podium, and if Ducati can take a big step it would mix up everything again. I think Ducati are the guys to show they can shake the field up and get closer to Yamaha and Honda.