MOTOGP RETURNS IN CHINA AFTER A TWO-WEEK BREAK After a brief two-week pause in the calendar the MotoGP World Championship fires up again this weekend in Shanghai. The Grand Prix of China represents the start of the most intense section of the ...
MOTOGP RETURNS IN CHINA AFTER A TWO-WEEK BREAK
After a brief two-week pause in the calendar the MotoGP World Championship fires up again this weekend in Shanghai. The Grand Prix of China represents the start of the most intense section of the season, with the transcontinental trip to the Orient immediately followed by an extensive European road trip that leads through to the summer.
Casey Stoner has taken the opportunity to spend a week at home in Australia with his wife Adriana, resuming his training programme as he aims to tackle the fourth round of the season in top form. With three different winners from the opening three rounds of 2008 it promises to be an evenly contested championship between the riders, factories and tyre providers. Victor of the opening round in Qatar, Stoner is keen to get back to winning ways at Shanghai, where he already celebrated on the top step of the podium with Ducati last season and in the 250cc class in 2005.
Marco Melandri made it onto an historic podium on MotoGP's first visit to China in 2005 and he scored a solid fifth place there last year. Marco, who was a guest of Enel at the ATP Master Series tournament in Montecarlo on the 25th April, is hoping for a return to that kind of form this weekend.
LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director
"On paper the Shanghai circuit is one that should suit our package quite well so I'm sure that we'll be strong. Vittoriano (Guareschi) has spent three days testing some new things at Mugello, in particular with the electronics, and we're satisfied with how the GP8 is continuing to evolve. Bridgestone are also putting a lot of hard work in. Casey had a really good test himself after the race at Estoril and I think we'll also see some encouraging signs from Marco soon."
CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team
"After such a great start in Qatar the last two races in Spain and Portugal have been tough, and to be honest a little unlucky too, but we made a few set-up changes in the Estoril test that should prove helpful in China. At Shanghai we should also have some new tyres available from Bridgestone. Our package worked really well at this track last year but there's no point looking into the past - we have to look to get the most out of what we have available to us right now. Shanghai is a really nice track, quite flowing, even though I'm not too keen on the first two turns. Between races I've been able to spend some time in Australia with my family out at the farm, away from the computer and the mobile phone! It was nice to get away from things and relax but now I can't wait to get back on the bike."
MARCO MELANDRI, Ducati Marlboro Team
"Shanghai is a circuit I like a lot. The first time we went there I managed a podium and went really strong in the wet - in fact my overriding memory from that race is the rain, there was so much of it! Last year I finished fifth and that was a good result for me because I remember I was losing a lot of ground in the straights, on top speed. That shouldn't be the case this year and in general the track should be good for our bike so hopefully we can have a good race at last."
The Shanghai Circuit is one of the most recent additions to the MotoGP calendar, having only held its first race back in 2005. The entire circuit complex, with its imposing modernist design, is probably the most spectacular on the calendar. The layout of the track itself was inspired by the shape of the Chinese symbol 'shang', which stands for 'high' or 'above'. It features two long straights, which put huge emphasis on horsepower, but also hosts a mixture of slow corners and hard braking zones which make for a compromised set-up - particularly regarding suspension.
Circuit Record: Dani Pedrosa (Honda - 2006) 1'59.318 - 159.335 km/h
Best Pole: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha - 2007) 1'58.424 - 160.583 km/h
Circuit Length: 5.281 km.
MotoGP Race 2008: 22 laps (116.182 km)
MotoGP 2008 Schedule: 1500h local time, 0900h CET