Valentino Rossi believes British rider Cal Crutchlow could be competitive on Ducati’s struggling factory Desmosedici machine.
The 26-year-old Midlander has been offered a two-year deal to join the Bologna factory after a series of impressive performances with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in 2012.
Crutchlow’s growing reputation was only enhanced at the recent British Grand Prix when he rode to a heroic sixth place from the back of the grid, just over 24 hours after breaking his left ankle in a high-speed practice crash.
Crutchlow has repeatedly said he is not afraid to jump on the finicky Desmosedici, despite Rossi’s struggle to make any major impact on the bike since he quit Yamaha at the end of 2010.
Rossi has only scored two podium finishes in 23 races and only Aussie Casey Stoner has been able to enjoy any major success while riding the Desmosedici.
But Rossi believes Crutchlow’s aggressive and attacking riding style could suit the Ducati.
Asked by MCN in Assen today what he thought about a potential move to Ducati by Crutchlow, the nine-time world champion said: “For me Cal with his style it is positive for Ducati, so why not?”
Rossi enjoyed one of his best days in dry conditions on the new GP12 1000cc machine in Assen today and a best time of 1.35.296 put him ninth on the timesheets.
The position was nothing to write home about but the 33-year-old was only 0.430s behind Ben Spies, who topped the timesheets in his bid to win the famous Dutch TT for a second year in a row.
Rossi was happy but like team-mate Nicky Hayden he said the biggest area to improve was a lack of rear grip.
The GP12 has suffered with excessive tyre wear this season with Bridgestone’s new softer compound tyres and Rossi said: “At the end I am just ninth but especially I am happy because the gap to the first position is just 0.4s, so it is a good step for us. The bike is quite good and we can push more than in Silverstone and we are closer to the top guys. But unfortunately after some laps we have too much of a problem with the rear grip. Both Nicky and I are quite fast with the new tyres but after some laps we lose a bit too much in the race pace compared to the other guys, so for tomorrow we have to work under that point of view. We need to modify the settings to improve the rear grip and have the rear tyre sliding less, create less temperature and have better life for the second part of the race. With the electronics you can fix some small problems but in my case, I don’t know about Nicky but I need more rear grip mechanically.”
Rossi said that while the new Bridgestone tyres had drastically improved safety with better initial warm-up performance, performance had been sacrificed as a result.
He added: “With these tyres we did a good step for the safety, especially at the beginning because the tyre of last year and 2010 was very dangerous and this year it is better but we pay something with the performance, especially after five or six laps. Unfortunately with our bike this is a problem. When you find a good balance for the front then after we start to suffer with the rear and we use the rear tyre more than the other factories and after some laps we have to slow down. In the last part of the race we are more in trouble and we have to improve in this area.”
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