DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM SET FOR CRUCIAL JAPANESE GP The Ducati Marlboro Team jets east for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix after another strong performance at last Sunday's Portuguese GP. Casey Stoner finished a close third at Estoril to give ...
DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM SET FOR CRUCIAL JAPANESE GP
The Ducati Marlboro Team jets east for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix after another strong performance at last Sunday's Portuguese GP. Casey Stoner finished a close third at Estoril to give him an impressive 76 point World Championship lead with just four races remaining.
The remarkable Stoner, winner of eight victories so far this year, and team-mate Loris Capirossi are in confident mood going into this weekend because the Ducati Marlboro Team and Bridgestone tyres have an impressive record at Motegi, Capirossi having dominated the last two MotoGP events at the track.
If Stoner wins the race he will secure a historic World Championship, becoming the second-youngest premier-class champ in history and giving Ducati its first title in the category. Ducati also leads the constructors' points chase and the Ducati Marlboro Team heads the teams' prize.
LIVIO SUPPO, Ducati MotoGP project director
"On paper, Motegi is a very good circuit for us, but things are different with the 800s this year, so as usual we will have to wait until we get there to see how things will go. Casey is in superb form, so I think he has the chance of a great weekend, and I hope that Loris can find the kind of pace that took him to victory at Motegi in 2005 and 2006. We begin this weekend like any other, working to get the best out of the Ducati/Bridgestone package and if we win the race then we will also win the championship. Casey has been unbelievable all season, there's no doubt that he 100 per cent deserves the crown."
CASEY STONER, World Championship leader on 287 points
"We weren't so lucky in the race last Sunday but I think we should be able to come back strong at Motegi because we've got a great team and the bike and tyres are so strong at the moment. Motegi is Bridgestone's home race and it's in Japan, so I know Ducati always likes to do well there! Ducati has taken pole position and the win the last two times we've been to Motegi, so it would be nice if we can do the same. I really want to try and win a few more races before the end of the season. And if we focus on winning races, then the championship should come. Motegi is a bit of a computer-designed track but it works well. We were very competitive there last year and the year before I was on the 250 podium. You need a bike that's very good on the brakes, which should be good for us. You also need good acceleration, which we still need to improve. We've got good midrange and top end but our bottom end needs improving a little bit."
LORIS CAPIROSSI, 8th overall on 105 points
"My 2005 and 2006 wins at Motegi will always be very special memories for me. For Ducati to win a MotoGP race in Japan is great but to win two in a row is incredible! I hope we can have another good result this year because the last few races have been pretty difficult for me. But I never give up and I will work as hard as ever and race as hard as ever all the way to the end of the season. The Ducati and the Bridgestones should work well at Motegi, it's the kind of track that has worked very well for our package in the past, though the 800s are different from the 990s, of course. Acceleration and braking are the most important factors of performance at this track, and we have a fast engine and a very good engine-braking system. The Bridgestones also work really well at Motegi. And I like the layout - even though it's just full throttle, brake, full throttle, brake - so I'm looking forward to the weekend."
Twin Ring Motegi is stop-and-go in character with few high-speed corners. The track features plenty of slow turns linked by medium-length straights which puts the emphasis on braking and acceleration performance.
Motegi hosted its inaugural Grand Prix, the Japanese GP, in 1999. From 2000 to 2003 the venue hosted the Pacific GP while the country's older Suzuka track ran the Japanese GP until it was declared too dangerous. Twin Ring Motegi is so called because it features both a Grand Prix track and an Indy oval. Constructed by Honda in 1998 to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary, the venue is located in the hills to the north west of Tokyo, between the cities of Mito and Utsonomiya. Motegi's construction entailed a massive civil engineering project that included the razing of seven hills and the filling of two valleys.
Lap record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 1m 47.288s, 161.095km/h-100.100mph
Pole position 2006: Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici), 1m 45.724s