Australian GP: Ducati Marlboro Team preview

DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM & HOMECOMING WORLD CHAMP STONER HIT THE ISLAND The Ducati Marlboro Team goes into the Australian Grand Prix following last month's historic Japanese GP where Casey Stoner secured the 2007 MotoGP riders' World Championship...

DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM & HOMECOMING WORLD CHAMP STONER HIT THE ISLAND

The Ducati Marlboro Team goes into the Australian Grand Prix following last month's historic Japanese GP where Casey Stoner secured the 2007 MotoGP riders' World Championship and Loris Capirossi won the race to complete a Motegi hat-trick. With the riders' title now won, the Bologna-based squad is out to secure the constructors' crown and the teams' championship, both of which it currently leads.

Homecoming champ Stoner can expect an unforgettable welcome at Philip Island, where extra grandstands have been built to accommodate fans and advance ticket sales are up more than 150 pert cent. And the 21-year-old has already made it clear how he wants to celebrate the title - by winning his ninth GP of the year! Stoner is the second youngest winner of the premier-class title (after American legend Freddie Spencer) and only the third Australian to wear the crown after his childhood hero Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner. This year he has shown not only devastating speed but also unerring consistency - he is the only man to have scored at every round, with eight wins, one second place, two thirds, a fourth, two fifths and a sixth.

Capirossi is also keen to continue his winning ways after his brilliant Motegi win. The Italian, who took his first world title at Phillip Island in 1990, has won three Australian GPs - two 125s and one 500.

LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP project director

"Honestly speaking, we go to Phillip Island with the usual mentality - aiming to win because we love racing and we love winning, it's our passion. I'm very happy that Casey arrived in Australia with the crown already in his pocket, so he could relax a little before his home GP, he deserves it, he's had a wonderful season. The motivation to win races is still there for him and also for Loris, especially after his great victory at Motegi. Also, we still want to secure the constructors' and teams' championships. We hope for an exciting battle at Phillip Island because the track nearly always creates good racing."

CASEY STONER, World Champion, on 297 points

"It's going to be a special feeling going to my home race with the championship already won, but I will be going out to win, same as ever, because that's what I enjoy doing. It's been an amazing season, I always knew I could do it with the right team behind me. I'm really looking forward to seeing the Australian fans, though once I'm on the bike I'll do my job same as everywhere. Phillip Island is my favourite track, it's fast and flowing and it's one of the few places where you can get a MotoGP bike really wound out, it's a lot of fun coming off those fast corners. We went well there in testing, we had to work pretty hard to make the tyres last the race-distance runs but Bridgestone have done an amazing job this year, so I think we can look forward to having good tyres for the race."

LORIS CAPIROSSI, 7th overall on 130 points

"I can't wait to get to Phillip Island and get to work. My win at Motegi last month was very important for me and for my team. We've had some tough weekends this year and that victory made all the work worthwhile. I'm really looking forward to this next race because I love Australia and I love Phillip Island. It's a fantastic track that really suits my style, so long as the weather isn't too bad. I always love fast corners and Phillip Island has many beautiful corners. My favourites are turns one and three and up the hill through Lukey Heights. It is the kind of track where a good rider can really make the difference. Also, of course, it holds some very special memories for me. It seems such a long time ago that I won my first title there, but even now it feels like a special place."

THE TRACK

Phillip Island is the fastest MotoGP track and demands much of man, machine and tyres. There are three essentials for a good result at the Victorian state venue: guts, determination and a sweet-handling motorcycle. Most riders count the track as one of their favourites because unlike many modern circuits that have been built to contain the speed of F1 cars, the Island is dominated by super-quick curves that test rider skill and daring to the limit. Situated 130 kilometres south east of Melbourne, Phillip Island hosted its first motorcycle races way back in the 1920s, when riders competed over a dusty 12-mile street circuit and the only access to the island was by boat! The circuit fell into disrepair but was redeveloped in the late 1980s and hosted Australia's first bike GP in 1989.

Lap record: Marco Melandri (Honda), 1m 30.332s, 177.266km/h-110.148mph (2005)

Pole position 2006: Nicky Hayden (Honda), 1m 29.020s

-credit: ducati.com

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Wayne Gardner , Marco Melandri , Freddie Spencer , Casey Stoner , Phillip Island