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Grapevine: Ducati chief praises Schumacher

Ducati team manager Livio Suppo praised Michael Schumacher after the German driver rode a MotoGP bike on Monday

Ferrari's Schumacher spent a day in Valentino Rossi's world when he tested the bike for the first time at the Mugello circuit.

Schumacher opened the session gently, lapping the Italian MotoGP circuit at around two minutes and 40 seconds.

Under the supervision of Suppo and former rider Randy Mamola, the seven-time champion completed a total of 42 laps with a best of 2:05.98, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He's having plenty of fun and he's going fast too: on the straight he immediately went over 300km/h," Suppo told the Italian newspaper.

"That was very good. Here, with a Ducati 999 road bike, Troy Bayliss did a 2:03. This was the first time for Michael on a GP bike, so you can only applaud him."

Schumacher's session was not error-free, however, the German going off track three times during the day. Only once he stalled the bike, though, and the team were forced to take it back to the pits on a truck.

Ducati are based in Bologna, near Ferrari's Maranello factory, and share the same title sponsor as the Italian Formula One team as well as the same tyre and fuel partners.

"I'd been looking forward to this for a long time," commented Schumacher. "It was worth it, super fun."

Among the small crowd following proceedings were test drivers Luca Badoer, Marc Gene and Andrea Bertolini, as well as Schumacher's father Rolf.

While Schumacher was having fun on two wheels, teammate Rubens Barrichello said farewell to Ferrari by taking his family and friends for rides in a Ferrari three-seater Formula One car.

The Brazilian was sorry to miss the opportunity to test the Ducati.

"If I didn't have this important engagement with my family, I would also have stayed there to try out the bikes, as I had been offered," he said. "Michael is 25 seconds slower than Valentino's record? I guess he doesn't want to take risks and takes care of his safety, and perhaps he's not turning the way you're supposed to.

"I'm sure my delay would have been 15 seconds because I really like riding bikes, on a track as well. Some time ago, in a challenge against my friend Alex Barros, I was only seven seconds slower. But maybe he was only fooling around."

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