DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM SET FOR NORTHERN RACES
The Ducati Marlboro Team moves on from the Italian and Catalan GPs in southern Europe to the British GP and Dutch TT in northern Europe as the 2007 MotoGP World Championship nears half-distance.
The Bologna-based squad is still buzzing from Casey Stoner's genius victory at Catalunya on June 10, which increased the young Australian's points lead. So far this year Stoner has scored four victories plus a third, a fourth and a fifth, while team-mate Loris Capirossi has scored one podium. Thanks to their efforts, the Ducati Marlboro Team currently leads the teams' championship and Ducati heads the constructors' series.
Soon after his remarkable ride in Spain, Stoner had another reason to celebrate -he was presented with an ultra-trick Bianchi Scrambler XR, from the renowned bicycle manufacturer's Ducati Corse range, by Bianchi chief Davide Brambilla.
Donington Park is a landmark venue for both riders - Stoner contested his first roadrace at the track in 2000 and his first GP there the following July, while Capirossi won his first GP at Donington in 1990.
LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP project director
"If you look at our last two visits to Donington it seems like it could be a difficult track for us, but then if you look at how we've performed so far this year, I think we can maybe be a bit more confident. Bridgestone has done an amazing job with its tyres so far this season, and the new tyre rule has really changed the situation. Anyway, we go there with our usual philosophy - to work hard and see what happens. The weather could be a factor, of course, but even if it rains, we know that this year's Bridgestone wets have performed very well."
CASEY STONER, World Championship leader on 140 points
"We are still learning and going forward, always gaining experience with the Ducati. After Barcelona we go to Donington with a positive attitude, it could be a tough track for us but we've already proved this year that the Ducati is good at a lot of circuits. I've never really cracked Donington but we'll see how we can piece it together this time. The flowing part is tough, down through Craner and into the Old Hairpin you're braking on the side of the tyres and the bike's moving around. I find the circuit a little dangerous in some points, if they improved that it'd probably be more enjoyable. Some of the other turns are a little bit funny, so it's really hard to try and compromise the set-up - whether you set it up for the tight and twisty bits, which are very important at the end of the race if you're in a battle, or if you set it up for the faster bits, where you make the time. I'm still not thinking about the championship, maybe later in the season we can start aiming for it, but the way we're going now is just perfect, so we're going to continue doing the same thing."
LORIS CAPIROSSI, 7th overall on 57 points
"We go to Donington feeling quite optimistic, after a difficult weekend at Barcelona which ended well enough, thanks to some fantastic support from my team and the people around me. I have always liked Donington, not only because it's where I won my first GP in 1990. The circuit is a real challenge to ride, especially the fast section, from Craner all the way through to Coppice, though the tighter corners at the end of the lap aren't so much fun. It is very important to have good engine characteristics for this track, so we will probably try the engine spec I used in practice at Mugello. We think this spec will also help at some of the other upcoming circuits, like the Sachsenring and Laguna Seca. It is also important to have good front-end feeling at Donington, you need that to attack the faster corners, and this is something we've been improving at the last few races."
Donington Park is dominated by fast, sweeping corners that crucially interlink with each other. Through these sections a fluid riding style and high corner speed are much more important than brute horsepower. But just to complicate matters, the Melbourne loop section (added in 1986 to bring the venue up to minimum GP length) features three dead-stop turns where last-gasp braking and vicious acceleration are all-important. Getting a MotoGP machine to work through these two contrasting segments requires engineers to find a compromise in chassis settings and tyre choice.
Donington has hosted GPs since 1987, taking over from Silverstone, which became Britain's World Championship venue after the notorious Isle of Man TT circuit was deemed too dangerous for GP racing in the mid-1970s.
DONINGTON PARK DATA
Lap record: Dani Pedrosa (Honda), 1m 28.714s,
Pole position 2006: Pedrosa, 1m 27.676s,