Fiat Yamaha seek further glory at Phillip Island The Fiat Yamaha Team make a triumphant return to Australia this week with the triple crown of riders', teams' and constructors' titles already in the bag, one year after arriving at Phillip Island...
Fiat Yamaha seek further glory at Phillip Island
The Fiat Yamaha Team make a triumphant return to Australia this week with the triple crown of riders', teams' and constructors' titles already in the bag, one year after arriving at Phillip Island in very different shape. Valentino Rossi's resounding victory at Motegi, combined with fourth place for his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and top ten finishes for satellite riders James Toseland and Colin Edwards, has secured every major honour available for the Japanese factory, with Lorenzo odds-on to secure the Rookie of the Year title over the remaining three rounds.
Despite a season of record-breaking success, Rossi heads to one of his favourite circuits with his instinctive will to win still intact as he looks to settle a score in front of his Australian fans. Over almost a decade of racing at Phillip Island Rossi made it 'his' circuit, with nine podiums in all classes including two 250cc wins and an unbeaten five-year streak in MotoGP that included title-clinching victories in 2001 and 2004. However, he has not won there for the past two seasons and he is determined to end that run in the next stage of his quest to equal his record of eleven victories in a single season, set with Yamaha in 2005.
Whilst the most important championship position may have been decided for 2008, Jorge Lorenzo still has a mathematical chance of clinching the runner-up spot, with 51 points separating him from the incumbent Casey Stoner. It is an unlikely target for the rookie although he will approach the final three races with relish having found top form on his Yamaha M1 in both wet and dry conditions recently. The Mallorcan has taken victory in Australia for the past two seasons in the 250cc class and having already tasted the winners' champagne in MotoGP he is desperate to do so again before the season is out.
The breathtaking scenery of Phillip Island always puts the bike and riders to the sternest of tests, with its sweeping and flowing nature making for the ultimate challenge of machine control and throttle accuracy, not to mention the sheer bravery required from the rider. The track's exposed location on the cliffs facing the Bass Strait makes for changeable weather, with early forecasts predicting rain for Friday and Saturday but dry, partly sunny conditions for Sunday.
Valentino Rossi - "I want to win for my guys!"
"So it's been a couple of days and I am starting to get used to being world champion again; it is a truly wonderful feeling! On Sunday we had a great party with my team and my friends who had come out to the race, and then on Monday we were meant to test some things for the 2009 bike but the rain came and we had to cancel it. Actually I was quite disappointed because I was looking forward to seeing what we had, but now we will wait to Valencia. Anyway, now we have three more races, at tracks which I love, and I am so excited to be able to just have fun at all of them. As everyone knows Phillip Island is one of my favourite tracks, maybe the best of all, and it's an incredible feeling to race there. I have won there so many times in my career and losing for the last two years has made me sad so now I have one aim - to win! It's a special place, the fans are always fantastic and it's the home race for four of my team so I want to do it for them to thank them for their work this year."
Jorge Lorenzo - "Hoping to go one better"
"I love Australia and I am very happy to be spending a couple of days in Melbourne before I go to Phillip Island, a city I fell in love with the first time I came here. Phillip Island is one of my favourite tracks and I can't wait to ride my M1 there. It's a place like no other and the only place we go where you can see the sea as you ride! I have won there the last two years in 250 and now I am excited to have the chance to race MotoGP there. I am determined to get on the podium because the fans always come onto the track after the race and it's an incredible sight! We have had three good races in a row, even if we just missed the podium on Sunday, and I am determined to keep this up to the end of the season and, hopefully, go one better."
Davide Brivio - "Racing purely for the fun of it"
"For the last three races we can take a new approach to racing, because we're going for the fun of it and to try to win again. That's the way we look at this weekend so we'll see how it turns out. It would be nice to win at Phillip Island because it's a great track, Valentino loves it and we have some good memories from there. It has not been very good for us for the last couple of years, but hopefully we can change that on Sunday. I think Valentino rides better without pressure because he is riding purely for fun and that is his main motivation for racing. It should be a great race."
Daniele Romagnoli - "Confidence is really high"
"Confidence is really high in our side of the garage, especially after the last few races. Jorge is back in shape, you can definitely say that! He rode extremely well at Motegi and his performance in qualifying showed how confident he is with the qualifying tyre, even though we had some issues with the front tyre in the race. We were a tiny bit disappointed not to be on the podium but Phillip Island is another story - it's a completely different layout, it suits Jorge's riding style and I think he won there last year by almost twenty seconds from the next rider so there is no reason why he won't be strong again. We're not really thinking about making the top three in the championship; that is not what is important for us this year. What is important is to be on the front row, on the podium and riding close to the leaders like we did at Motegi."