It wasn't the easiest of weekends for anybody with qualifying on Saturday afternoon the only fully dry session for the teams and riders ahead of Sunday's race.
Thankfully for Ducati they had tested for two days at the track a few weeks ago, and it really paid off for them. I was also there for those two days, and I think Ducati finally took a big step forward with the chassis and the balance of the bike. They had perfect conditions for those two days and they really went for it. Rossi put in a lot of laps and they found some small improvements, and he just felt more comfortable with the combination of a new frame and a different swingarm.
It's not like Ducati were missing seconds a lap before this weekend, they were mostly just missing a couple of tenths per lap every race to be able to fight for the podium. So I think the addition of those little tenths plus the fortunes of others all contributed for the Misano race. Next time in Aragón in two weeks we really have to see and confirm how much of an improvement it was, but here in Misano the step forward and the rhythm Valentino had from the Test all came together perfectly.
Of course the bad luck of Dani Pedrosa played into the whole thing, but even with him on track Valentino would have been the third fastest guy out there. So he still really had to stand up and be counted and do it on his own, and I think the way everybody was really happy after the race was a sign of how much they really wanted it. Even though Valentino and Ducati are parting ways at the end of the year they just wanted to prove they can do it. They have all been trying so hard and this was the payback and it was a really great day for all the fans and everybody who is involved with Ducati. You could just feel the vibes of Valentino being back in parc ferme, it was fantastic!
For Nicky Hayden it was a really brave ride – his first back from injury after that fractured wrist. It was his right hand too so not an easy one to ride with when injured, but Nicky showed just how tough he is with his display.
He really showed that he was riding through the pain and he wanted to be there and fight. He did what he had to do and the most important thing is that he didn't crash again during the weekend. I think he also wants to give a sign for next year that he is always pushing really hard for Ducati.
Next up is Aragón and that's a race track Nicky really likes and one at which he has already had a podium in the dry for Ducati, so I can't wait to see how he does there.
I think Aragón is going to be a little bit different because Honda and Yamaha were testing there very recently so they have the rhythm and the pace, and they know what to do. There we'll really see what Ducati found in that Misano Test, but this has definitely been a step forward, there's no doubt about it.