Alex Hofmann's MotoGP Round Up from Silverstone

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I think the weekend at Silverstone showed that Ducati are continuing to make progress, and they are certainly closing that gap to the front.

As we all know the Ducati works best in the wet at the moment and that was shown in the first practice on Friday morning when Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden put in a 1-2 at the top of the timesheet.

When the conditions were dry it was a different scenario though, and it showed again that while the situation is difficult for Ducati they are taking steps forward. When both bikes can be the two fastest in the wet you expect it to be able to happen in the dry, because it seems like the bike is working well. The big surprise is that the potential shown in the wet is not transferred to the dry.

Looking at Nicky's race weekend it was impressive. Without the crash in qualifying he could have qualified up at the front, and his first part of the race was excellent. When the tyres went off – as they did for everyone – he did drop off a bit as he started to encounter lower grip and some chatter, but at the beginning of the race when the tyre was new he was doing a brilliant job. It showed again that the potential really is there.

That also indicated to me that if there is one race on the calendar that Valentino doesn't like it could be Silverstone! He missed the first year in 2010 through injury, he didn't feel comfortable there last year and it continued this year.

Nicky had the rhythm all weekend, it was just the second part of the race that it lacked a bit. He was clearly feeling more comfortable and you could see he has been working really hard on that bike, physically, to make it work to its full capacity. He's been doing a fantastic job, and he finished 15 seconds off race winner Jorge Lorenzo which is another big step closer in the dry.

Because of the crash he had in qualifying Valentino was possibly missing a bit of confidence. At a fast place like Silverstone that will put you a second off the pace per lap, and that's more or less what he was.

At the end [of the race] everybody was struggling with the tyres because of the mixed conditions. Race set-up was far from perfect for every rider I think. The Yamaha showed that combined with [Jorge] Lorenzo it has been the best working package on saving tyres and being gentle on the race set-up, and that was obvious in parc ferme. Looking at the rear tyres of each of the podium finishers, Lorenzo's looked a winner's tyre. Casey's [Stoner] looked horrible so he did a fantastic job staying ahead of [Dani] Pedrosa, whose tyre did not look perfect but for sure looked better than Casey's!

I also have to give a special mention to Cal Crutchlow for his ride, which was simply phenomenal. To finish sixth with a broke and dislocated ankle after starting from down in 20th position on the grid just goes to show how tough – and talented – that guy is!

Now we have a weekend off before three successive races. Assen is a real rider's track, it's difficult and the weather is always an issue. Sachsenring is short and tight and you can't make any more changes, there is no more testing in between, and then we come back to Mugello, the spiritual home of the Ducati and where the Desmosedici was born. It's where most of the test laps on the bike have been done.

This section of the season will be a crucial one for everyone, including Ducati.
 

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