Valentino Rossi is optimistic of improved pace from the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 at the French Grand Prix, following a positive test at Estoril last week.
After finishing in a season's best fourth place at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Rossi sampled an upgraded bike at the circuit and went fifth quickest in the test. He reported a front end that was more sensitive to setup changes and smoother power delivery from the engine, and believes that both factors will make the Italian squad more competitive at Le Mans.
"We're coming off a test that confirmed we've started to go in the right direction and, although we're still in the first phase, we hope we can find a good setup for Le Mans so that we can be faster in qualifying," he said. "We're all working hard, and we're making progress, but we still have to keep improving."
Ducati team manager Vittoriano Guareschi does not quite share Rossi's confidence, and believes that only a weekend of dry running can give the squad the track time it needs to maximize its latest upgrades.
"Both Nicky [Hayden] and Valentino were pleased with the work we did during the post-race test at Estoril, and now we will do everything we can to adapt the GP11 to a circuit that's very different from Portugal. We hope for a sunny weekend, since every hour of track time in 'normal' conditions is very important for us, because of the work we're doing."